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Burger to Judge Law School Contest

Ames Competition Will Feature Chief Justice


Chief Justice Warren E. Burger is scheduled to be one of the three jurists presiding over the final round of the Ames Competition at the Law School next month.

Hon. J. Skelly Wright, of the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. circuit, and Hon. Edward Hennessy, of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, will also be judging the competition, in which third-year law students argue fictional cases in a moot court.

Sheila Kuehl, the first woman in the contest's 66-year history to argue a case before the Ames Court, said yesterday she is "very excited."

"This kind of training is very important for women in the profession," she said, adding she hopes more women will enter the competion in the future.

More Nervous Than Excited

But Jonathan A. Schur, who will also argue before Burger, said yesterday the prospect made him more nervous than excited. Schur said he is "scared to death."

Kuehl and Schur agreed Burger does not enjoy a good reputation among students at the Law School, because they believe he takes a very technical approach to legal questions, rather than an intellectual or sociological one.

This year, the case before the Ames Court deals with the guardianship of a 16-year-old woman who left her family for two years to join a religious group.

Her parents maintain that she was coerced, and a lower court awarded them guardianship of the woman. The woman, along with her church, is challenging this ruling as an infringement of her constitutional right to freedom of religion.

The Silver Screen

The competition will be shown over closed circuit television. It is expected to draw a great deal of attention in part because Burger and Wright spent eight years together on the U.S. Court of Appeals and took opposing stands on many issues.

Wright said yesterday he and Burger did not always see eye to eye. Burger "tended to be conservative, as I saw it, and came out more strongly for the law and order position," especially in criminal cases, Wright said.

However, he stressed there is "no personal animosity" between them.

Not Boring

Hennesy said he is looking forward to sitting with Burger and Wright, adding the case before the Ames Competition is much better than those he usually sees in such moot courts.

Mark Greenberg, a third year law student and a member of the Harvard Law Guild, said yesterday there will be some kind of demonstration against the Burger court the night before the competition, which is scheduled for November 17.

The demonstration will probably take the form of a teach-in sponsored by a variety of Law School organizations, but plans have not yet been finalized, Greenberg said.

Reaching the Ames Competition represents one of the "highest honors attainable" in the Law School, according to the Handbook for Entering Students 1977. The two teams are composed of six students each, two oralists and four who write the brief. The judges name the winning team, the best oralist and the best brief.

The first place team receives $600, and the other team gets $400.

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