Stanley Competition

44th Stanley Moot Court Competition Finals

The final round of the 44th Stanley Moot Court Competition will be held this Friday, November 20 in Worrell 1312 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. The final round will showcase the top two law students in the moot court competition. Blake Stafford (’17) will represent the plaintiff and Emily Jeske (’17) will represent the defendant. The distinguished panel of judges includes: Judge Richard Dietz (’02) of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Rhoda Billings (’66), a retired Wake Forest Law professor who was the first female chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, and Ken Carlson (’90), an attorney at Constancy, Brooks, & Smith and a Wake Forest Law professor of Advanced Trial Practice and Trade Secrets and Unfair Competition.

The Stanley Moot Court Competition is held each fall semester and open to all second and third year law students. This competition is held in honor of Judge Edwin M. Stanley, a distinguished Wake Forest alumnus and supporter, who served as a United States District Court Judge for the Middle District of North Carolina from 1958 to 1968.

Following oral arguments, awards will be given and the winner announced. There will be a reception in the Law Commons following the competition.

The summary of the case at issue is as follows:

This appeal involves the interpretation of a “whistleblower” or “anti-retaliation” statute, section 510 of the Employer Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), codified at 29 U.S.C. § 1140. The issue is whether Plaintiff Sarah Donaldson engaged in conduct protected by section 510, which makes it unlawful to discharge an employee who “has given information or testified or prepared to testify in any inquiry or proceeding” related to ERISA.

Plaintiff was the Human Resources Director of a fairly new company that was an offshoot of a bigger company. She was on the committee that oversees the company’s retirement plan. She became concerned that the retirement plan was invested in a small firm run by the brother of her company’s treasurer. She complained internally to the treasurer and then the company’s CEO. She was fired and believes it is due to her complaint about the management of the retirement plan.

Plaintiff filed suit against the employer in the Middle District of Florida for two claims: violation of the ERISA anti-retaliation provision and violation of a Florida whistleblower statute. The district court allowed the company’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that her complaint is not protected conduct under ERISA and dismissed the state law claim, declining to exercise pendent jurisdiction over it.  Plaintiff appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendant to the Eleventh Circuit.

The argument here is one of statutory interpretation. The parties disagree over whether section 510 protects an employee’s unsolicited internal complaint to management and base their arguments on the plain meaning of section 510, other circuit decisions on point, and interpretation of other whistleblower statutes.

There is a 4-3 circuit split on this issue, with four circuits holding ERISA does not protect unsolicited internal complaints, and three holding that it does.  The Eleventh Circuit is one of the ones that has not addressed the issue. As such, this is a issue of first impression.

Karon Fowler (’15) winner of the 42nd annual Edwin M. Stanley Moot Court Competition

42-Stanley-Moot-Court-finalists-700x350

Aimee Durant (’15) and Karon Fowler (’15)

Karon Fowler (’15) is the winner of the final round of the 42nd annual Stanley Moot Court Competition sponsored by the Wake Forest University School of Law Moot Court Board.

The finalists in the Stanley Moot Court competition were Karon Fowler (’15) and Aimee Durant (’15). Fowler represented the appellant, Nicole Swisher, vs. Durant, who represented the Appellee Bronx Bombers.

The 2013 final involved one issue of state tort law and one issue of federal civil procedure.  Plaintiff Nicole Swisher was injured by a foul ball at a minor league baseball stadium in Maryland that was owned by Defendant Bronx Bombers, LLC, The Worrell Warriors (a minor league team) and designed by Jeter & Rivera, LLC (an architectural firm).  The plaintiff was in a children’s play area located in a ballpark concourse, watching her 4-year-old twins, when she was hit by the foul ball.

This year’s panel judges were the Honorable Stephanie Thacker,  Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit; the Honorable Frank Whitney, Chief District Judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina; and Michael D. Green, Professor, Wake Forest University School of Law.

“It was a fabulous competition, you were both very impressive,” Thacker said following the oral arguments held on Friday, Nov. 22, in the Worrell Professional Center. “I know that this is not something I could have done when I was in law school, so congratulations for participating in this competition. You both had such confidence. Some of the best oral advocates I’ve ever seen came from Wake Forest law school, and you were great examples for the school.”

Whitney added that the finalists did a great job of constructing their oral arguments. “The art of oral argument is not something that we see as much anymore, but the two of you did as well as any attorneys that have appeared before me, and you were so well prepared,” he said.

Professor Green added that it was an interesting case.

The competition chairpersons were Rebeca Echevarria (’14) and A’tolani Akinkuotu (’14).

Douglas Walters (’15) was named best oralist and the winner of the James C. Berkowitz Award, which was presented by the Berkowitz family. James died in a car accident when he was returning to the law school to argue in the quarterfinals of the 1984 Stanley Competition. Kelsey Meuret (’15) was runner-up for best oralist.

Stephen Frost (‘15) received the award for best brief. Runner-up for best brief was Evan Leadem (’15)

Sixteen finalists and two honorable mention Stanley Competition participants were invited to join the Moot Court Board.  While many of these participants were already on the Moot Court Board, several were invited to join this year, including Aimee Durant, Chris Edwards, Kimberly Sokolich, Jasmine Pitt, Kelly Russo, Katelin Kennedy, Douglas Walters and Jordan Dongell.

Dean Blake D. Morant commented on the competition after thanking the judges and the Moot Court Board. “These oral advocates have done a splendid job of showing the success of our oral advocates here at Wake Forest Law,” he said.

The intramural moot court competition is named in honor of the late Judge Edwin M. Stanley, a distinguished Wake Forest alumnus and supporter, who served as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Middle District of North Carolina from 1958-1968. This year 51 students competed in the competition, according to organizers.

Zoe Niesel wins 2010 Stanley Moot Court Competition

Zoe Niesel is the winner of the final round of the 39th Stanley Moot Court Competition sponsored by the Wake Forest University School of Law Moot Court Board. Continue reading »

2010 Stanley Competition Results

The final results are in from the 39th annual Edwin M. Stanley Moot Court Competition.   Continue reading »

2010 Stanley Moot Court Competition Finals

Zoe Niesel and Austin Walsh will compete in the final round of the 2010 Edwin M. Stanley Moot Court Competition on Friday, November 19, 2010. Continue reading »

2010 Stanley Moot Court Competition Problem

The hypothetical case of Kim v. First National Bank of North Carolina served as the problem for the 2010 Stanley Moot Court Competition. Continue reading »

2010 Stanley Moot Court Competition

The 2010 Edwin M. Stanley Moot Court Competition is underway! Continue reading »