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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan Judges Moot Court Competition at Harvard Law

Founded in 1911, the Ames Moot Court Competition judges students' ability to develop appellate briefs and advocate for a legal position.
Founded in 1911, the Ames Moot Court Competition judges students' ability to develop appellate briefs and advocate for a legal position. By Truong L. Nguyen
By Emmy M. Cho, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Law School affiliates congregated to watch United States Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan preside over the final round of the Law School’s annual Ames Moot Court Competition Tuesday night.

Founded in 1911, the Ames Moot Court Competition judges students’ ability to develop appellate briefs and advocate for a legal position. Qualifying rounds are open to second-year law students.

Kagan — who was formerly Dean of the Law School — was joined by Consuelo M. Callahan, a judge in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Kimberly S. Budd, the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

The final round case — Charles Artiss v. Westlake Pharmaceuticals, Inc. — focused on the issue of personal jurisdiction.

Stacy N. Livingston, a third-year law student who serves as the Board of Student Advisers’ vice president for the Ames Moot Court Competition, said this year’s final-round case “poses two key questions.”

“The first is whether a court can exercise specific personal jurisdiction over a brand-name drug manufacturer who promotes and sells its product in the forum state when the plaintiff was injured by the generic version of the same drug, which is required to copy the key features of the brand-name drug by law,” Livingston said.

“The second is whether Ames Statute Section 5101 comports with due process to the extent that it conditions registration to do business in the state on consent to general personal jurisdiction in the courts in the state,” she added.

Prior to announcing the decision, Kagan said that choosing a winner was not easy.

“This was absolutely great, and it did not seem obvious at all who should go home with the prizes,” Kagan said.

Third-year law student Morgan J. Sandhu of the Lila A. Fenwick Memorial Team, representing the respondent, won the award for “Best Oralist.”

The honors of “Best Brief” and “Best Overall Team,” however, ultimately went to the Carrie E. Buck Memorial Team, which represented the petitioner and was composed of students John S. Acton ’17, Jason K. Altabet, Mateusz J. Bendisz, Ryan M. Dunbar, Maria Huryn, and Fenella McLuskie.

Kagan said that each of the competitors presented a unique style of delivering arguments, an important skill in the legal field.

“An important thing for an advocate is to develop a personal style and to be the person you are, and you could see that each of you had his or her style,” Kagan said.

Budd commended the competitors for their dedication throughout the year preparing for the qualifying, semi-final, and final rounds of the competition.

“This is something that you’re going to remember and be able to draw on for the rest of your lives, so congratulations,” Budd said.

—Staff writer Emmy M. Cho can be reached at

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