Moot Court Team Ready to Make its Points at National Championship
Alen Samuel (left) and Vrithika “Vinni” Anandham, both senior political science majors at UT Dallas, advanced to the American Moot Court Association’s National Championship Tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday in Miami.
One UT Dallas Moot Court team has earned a coveted bid to the 2015 national championship tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday in Miami.
Alen Samuel and Vrithika “Vinni” Anandham, both senior political science majors, placed second in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association South Central Regional Tournament in November at Texas Tech University Law School.
Samuel, who joined the team her junior year, first competed in regionals last year.
“I really entered this year with the mindset to just do my best,” said Samuel, who is from Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. “It never crossed my mind, nor did I even think it to be possible, that my teammate and I would make it past quarterfinals, much less compete in the final round of competition. It was such a great surprise to participate in the final round and earn a bid to nationals.”
Moot court is modeled after the appellate procedure employed in state and federal courts. Teams of two formulate arguments based in constitutional law and present their points to a panel of judges acting as the U.S. Supreme Court.
UT Dallas took four teams to the regional tournament. In addition to Anandham and Samuel, two other teams — Kyle Reynolds and Theo Torres, and Alexandra Noll and Blake Eaton — advanced to the Round of 16. Alison Techman and Hope Steffensen also competed for UT Dallas.
Anne Dutia, associate director of the Pre-Law Advising and Resource Center, said 40 teams, including competitors from moot court powerhouses the University of North Texas, Texas A&M University and the U.S. Air Force Academy, participated at regionals. Of those, eight teams automatically qualified for the national tournament.
The American Moot Court Association’s National Championship Tournament, the only undergraduate moot court national tournament in the country, will feature the top 80 teams from about 400 that competed in regional tournaments. This year, the competition will be at Florida International University in Miami.
“They immersed themselves in their respective issues and, in addition to further developing their critical thinking and logical reasoning skills, became more skillful and persuasive orators.”
UT Dallas had two teams qualify for the 2014 tournament, two in 2012 and three in 2011.
Samuel and Anandham said they are nervous about heading to nationals, but excited about the challenging experience.
Anandham, a first-year team member from Hutto, said competing is fun and thrilling. She is looking forward to battling teams from across the nation.
“In moot court, you are given the opportunity to persuade the bench or justices that consist of people from a variety of backgrounds, views and experiences to see why your argument is the best one,” she said.
“Sometimes you can read their faces from when you begin the argument, and they are skeptical, until the end when they hopefully become impressed with the points you’ve made. I love it when I can see a change in their facial reactions during the competition rounds.”
Samuel and Anandham thanked Dutia for her dedication, encouragement and mentorship.
“I'm very proud of how hard Vinni and Alen worked and how much they have matured as a team over the course of this fall,” said Dutia, who has coached moot court at UT Dallas for the past five years. “They immersed themselves in their respective issues and, in addition to further developing their critical thinking and logical reasoning skills, became more skillful and persuasive orators.”
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