Mike Stephens ’18 Wins the 45th Annual Walker Moot Court Competition

walker final

The Honorable Richard Dietz ‘02, North Carolina Court of Appeals; Malcom Boyd ’18; Mike Stephens ’18; The Honorable Denise Hartsfield ‘91, Forsyth County District; and The Honorable Eric Morgan, Forsyth County Superior Court at the 45th Annual Walker Moot Court Competition at Wake Forest School of Law.

Mike Stephens ‘18 won the final round of the 45th annual George K. Walker Competition held at Wake Forest School of Law on Friday, April 15, 2016. Stephens represented fictional defendant, Deerfield Corrections, Inc., arguing that Deerfield’s policy of hiring only males as Boys Group Leaders at Skinner qualifies for the “bona fide occupational qualification” exception to Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination in employment based on concerns about the privacy and rehabilitation of the juveniles. Runner up finalist, Malcolm Boyd ‘18, represented fictional plaintiff, Paula Perez, a former Deerfield employee who was denied a Boys Group Leader position at Skinner because of her sex. See below for a full summary of the case.

judged the finals. The Moot Court Board would like to thank these distinguished judges for dedicating their time to support the Walker Moot Court Competition.

The judges each complimented Stephens and Boyd on their oral advocacy skills, knowledge of the record, and grasp of the law.

Several awards were give out after the finalists presented their arguments to the court. Distinctions for Best Brief, Best Oralist, and the Debbie Parker Memorial Moot Court Service Award were awarded.

Daniel McClurg won the Best Brief award and Mickey Herman was runner-up. The Best Oralist award went to John Van Swearingen and runner-up was Zachary McCamey.

The Debbie Parker Moot Court Service Award is an honor granted to either a member of the Moot Court Board or a participant in the Walker Moot Court Competition who exemplifies throughout the competition a spirit of dedication and service to Wake Forest University School of Law, as well as compassion and cooperation with his or her fellow students. This year the Debbie Parker Moot Court Service Award went to Lauren Emery ’16 and Eric Benedict ’17.

In addition to the finalists, the Moot Court Board is honored to welcome eighteen first-year students as new members: Ashley Barton, Malcolm Boyd, Mitchell Davis, Vanessa Garrido, Mickey Herman, Ryan Holt, Emily Lagan, David Layman, Zach McCamey, Daniel McClurg, Yawara Ng, Stephanie Poon, Emily Scotton, Mike Stephens, John Van Swearingen, Brittany Wages, Evan Weltge, and Zack Young. Congratulations to all the new members!

A special thank you to Eric Benedict and Kayla Fredrickson for an excellent job as this year’s competition chairpersons. The Walker Moot Court Competition would not have been a success without your hard work and organization!

For forty-five years, the Wake Forest Moot Court Board has conducted a moot court competition for first-year law students. In 1998, the Moot Court Board named this competition the George K. Walker Moot Court Competition in honor of Professor George Walker’s long-standing support of the Wake Forest Moot Court program. Thank you, Professor Walker, for your continued and unwavering support of Moot Court!

The summary of the case at issue is as follows:

Defendant Deerfield Corrections, Inc. is a private for-profit corporation that contracts with several states to operate correctional facilities. One of the facilities operated by Deerfield Corrections, Inc. is the Skinner Juvenile Detention Center in Forsyth County, North Carolina. Plaintiff Paula Perez was employed at Skinner from February 2012 to October 2015.  She started out as a third-shift Girls Group Leader and eventually moved up to second-shift Girls Group Leader. Ms. Perez received superior performance evaluations during her tenure as a Girls Group Leader. In February 2015, a first-shift Boys Group Leader position became open, and Ms. Perez applied. She was not hired for the position; Skinner’s Director of Human Resources, Ellie Herndon, informed her that pursuant to Deerfield Corrections’ policy, females could not serve as Boys Group Leaders at Skinner. Deerfield Corrections bases its policy on the belief that hiring only males to be Boys Group Leaders is necessary to enable it to achieve its mandate from the State to maintain a secure facility and to rehabilitate the juveniles while safeguarding their privacy rights. After being denied the Boys Group Leader position, Ms. Perez eventually quit her job at Skinner and later filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, which issued her a right-to-sue notice dated October 26, 2015.  Ms. Perez then filed this lawsuit against Deerfield Corrections, Inc.

The issue before the court is whether Deerfield’s policy of hiring only males as Boys Group Leaders at Skinner qualifies for the “bona fide occupational qualification” exception to Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination in employment based on concerns about the privacy and rehabilitation of the juveniles.