After listening to two hours of oral arguments last night, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall announced the decision in favor of the appellants in the final round of the 1977 Ames Moot Court competition at the Law School.
More than 300 people watched the arguments in the Moot court room in Austin Hall. Hundreds of spectators packed two closed-circuit T.V. viewing rooms an hour before the start of the proceedings.
Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals and Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court joined Marshall in hearing the cases.
Two six-member teams of third-year law students submitted briefs to the court prior to last night's final arguments. Each of the teams also selected two oralists to present their views to the judges.
Kenneth F. Maclver, a teaching fellow in Law, wrote the fictitious case, a review of the constitutional validity of a state statute which permits probate courts to give parents guardianship of children influenced by fringe religious groups, such as the Unification Church.
In deciding for the appellants, the judges reversed the state law. Justice Hennessey praised all four oralists for their professional presentations, and Justice Wright said the "briefs were simply superb."
"The bench was razor-sharp. Marshall had researched every related case.' But there's a certain exquisite pleasure in being skinned alive." Jonathan A. Schur '75, an appellee oralist, said last night.
Neal N. Beaton '75, a member of the appellee team, said his group had been working on their arguments since September, when the Law School board of student advisors, which sponsors the competition, announced the case.
All first year Law students must participate in Ames Moot Court competitions, Beaton said. After the first year, students participate on a voluntary basis.
The two final teams share a $1000 prize, but most students compete for honor and practice, Beaton said.
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