Posted: April 18th, 2015
Elvira Nunez (’17) won the final round of the 44th annual George K. Walker Moot Court Competition held at Wake Forest School of Law on Friday, April 17, 2015. Nunez represented the fictional defendant, Davie Country School District, arguing that an alleged student-on-student sexual harassment claim did not raise to an actionable level under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”). Matt Cloutier (’17) represented Plaintiff Hope Padgett, as next friend of Piper Padgett, arguing that the student-on-student harassment was actionable under Title IX and that defendant Davie Country School District was in violation of Title IX. See below for a full summary of the case.
The judges were Judge Richard Dietz of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Jill Wilson, education attorney at Brooks Pierce, and Dionne Jenkins, attorney for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board. The Moot Court Board would like to thank these distinguished judges for dedicating their time to support the Walker Moot Court Competition.
Both competitors did extremely well throughout the competition and during the final round. The judges were very impressed with both student’s oral advocacy skills. Judge Dietz said, “Overall, you were both absolutely outstanding, better than many lawyers that argue appeals.”
Nunez (’17) was not the only student to take home an award. Awards for Best Brief, Best Oralist, and the Debbie Parker Memorial Moot Court Service Award were also awarded.
Mark Clare (’17) won the Best Brief award and the Best Oralist award went to Nunez (’17).
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. The Debbie Parker Moot Court Service Award went to Karon Fowler (’15) and Kelly Russo (’15).
In addition to the finalists, Nunez and Cloutier, the Moot Court Board is honored to welcome seventeen first-year law students as new members: Eric Benedict, Kayleigh Butterfield, Charley Connor, Drew Culler, Mia Falzarano, Daniel Fowler, Katherine Haddock, Steven Hemric, Emily Jeske, Matthew Kerschner, Malorie Letcavage, Sarah Remes, Blake Stafford, Ethan White, Catherine Berenato, Kyleigh Feehs and Paige Topper. Congratulations to all the new members!
A special thank you to Katie Yale and Diana Castro for a job well done as the competition chairpersons. The Walker Moot Court Competition would not have been a success without your hard work and organization!
For forty-four 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 follows:
During the 2013-2014 school year, Piper Padgett and Liam Lanier were students at Kennedy High School, a school located in Davie County School District. Padgett was selected for the lead role of “Millie” in the drama club’s winter production, “Eight Weeks,” which was a romantic comedy. Lanier acted as the student director, and Ms. Adler served as the faculty director of the production. Play rehearsals commenced in January 2014. “Eight Weeks” was performed at Kennedy High School on April 2-4, 2014.
Between January 2014 and April 2014, Liam Lanier made several verbal comments to or about Piper Padgett during school hours and/or school-related activities. In addition, during that same time period and while at school, Lanier touched Padgett on more than one occasion. Padgett alleged that the verbal and physical conduct, which occurred in front of other students, constituted sexual harassment. Lanier testified that his conduct was merely typical high school behavior and that much of the conduct was in the context of the play. Padgett claimed that as a result of the alleged harassment, she experienced a decline in school performance and participation in school activities. In addition, Padgett testified to some psychological problems about which she consulted a doctor.
Plaintiff Hope Padgett, as next friend of Piper Padgett, filed an action against Defendant Davie County School District, alleging student-on-student sexual harassment in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 (2012) (“Title IX”). Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. In response, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the issues of whether the alleged harassment was severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive and whether it deprived Piper Padgett of access to educational benefits and opportunities.