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Law Student Breaks Rules of Moot Court

A third-year Law School student broke tournament rules in a recent moot court competition.

Melissa R. Hart '91, captain of the John Marshall Team, improperly conferred last month with Jonathan M. Moses '88, a current Columbia Law School student, about the case being argued in the trial, according to the Harvard Law Record.

Her team had three minutes deducted from its competition time for the infraction but received no other penalty. "Nobody felt that my team had gained an advantage from the conversation," Hart said.

The allegation first appeared in an anonymous flier delivered to law school students last month. The flyer, titled "Boycott Ames: Team's Cheating Covered Up," was also posted on some bulletin boards around campus.

"[The fliers] were distributed with the statement that they were intended to encourage integrity within the law school," Hart said, "but their distribution was an act more lacking in integrity than any I have witnessed at the school."

Competition rules, interpreted by Board of Student Advisers (BSA) president George M. Duhl, stated that team members were not allowed to collaborate about their case with anyone who was not on their team.

That rule had become an issue in the trial when both teams requested a meeting with Professor of Law Joseph W. Singer '81, who authored the case scenario the students were arguing.

After conversations with Associate Dean of the Law School Todd Rakoff, Hart's team scheduled a meeting with Singer.

After that meeting, the opposing team, the Felix S. Cohen team, issued a memo stating that the meeting "[involves] violations of several rules of the competition." In response to that allegation, Duhl ordered that there be no more outside conversation on the case--a rule Hart would break.

After the trial, most students and administrators said the penalty did not have an effect on the outcome.

The BSA statement said, "We do not believe that the [Marshall team] gained any unfair advantage in the Competition, nor do we belive that the [Marshall team] intended to violate the rules."

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