The three-person team from Southwestern University School of Law won the Pace University School of Law Ninth Annual National Environmental Moot Court Competition with the highest combined score for both the oral argument and written brief. More than 80 law schools nationwide participated in the three-day event, which is the largest moot situated all under one roof, and the largest environmental moot court competition in the nation.
Contact: Public Affairs
WHITE PLAINS, NY — The three-person team from Southwestern University School of
Law won the Pace University School of Law Ninth Annual National Environmental
Moot Court Competition with the highest combined score for both the oral argument and
written brief. More than 80 law schools nationwide participated in the three-day event,
which is the largest moot situated all under one roof, and the largest environmental moot
court competition in the nation.
Becky Clark, Adrienne Miller and Joan Spaeder from the Southwestern University School
of Law team had the highest score for their oral presentation as they represented the
While-U-Wait Photo Service in the final round. The case involved retroactive Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) applicability and medical
monitoring cost recovery to track toxic photo chemicals which were released into the ground
water. The Southwestern team beat out the two teams from the University of Memphis and
Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College.
Other schools took awards in the following categories: Best Oralist, Minjoo Lee from
Washington University School of Law (St. Louis); Best Overall Brief, University of
Texas School of Law; and Best Brief Representing Each Party, University of Baltimore
School of Law and University of Houston School of Law.
This year’s specific case, selected by the White Plains, NY-based school’s Moot Court
Board, was given to each of the teams prior to the competition, and each two- or three-
person team prepared and submitted a written brief defending one position regarding the
topic of retroactivity and commerce clause issues in a CERCLA proceeding. In past
competitions, students have argued on environmental topics ranging from illegal
dumping to personal liability for violation by a corporation.
Each team argued from three points of view — the government/regulator, the regulated
industry and the citizen public interest group. Each team defended all three positions
before a panel of judges comprised of attorneys and federal and state judges, most of
whom are specialists in the field of environmental law. The competition consisted of
three rounds, and each team was rated on their written brief and each oral defense.
The judges presiding over the final round included: Environmental Appeals Judge
Honorable Edward E. Reich, who works with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board; Honorable Eugene E. Siler Jr., a United States
Court of Appeals Judge for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio; Honorable Jane R.
Roth, a United States Court of Appeals Judge for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; and Honorable Richard D. Cudahy, a United States Court of Appeals
Judge for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, Illinois.
Preliminary rounds were held on Thursday, February 20, and Friday, February 21 with
the top-scoring 27 teams advancing to the quarter-final round. Only nine teams advanced
to the final rounds, held on Saturday, February 22. All of the participating schools,
volunteers and judges participated in a special reception on Friday, February 21, hosted
by Texaco Inc.
The Southwestern University team received a traveling trophy of an original watercolor,
“Dawn-Storm King,” by Hudson Valley artist John Husley, that commemorates the 1965
court decision inaugurating the field of environmental law. Last year’s winning team was
from The University of Houston. Winning briefs will be published in the Pace
Environmental Law Review.
The School of Law is part of a comprehensive, independent and diversified University
with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. Its Environmental Law
program is ranked third in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Nearly 14,000
students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the Dyson
College of Arts, Lubin School of Business, School of Computer Science and Information
Systems, School of Education, School of Law and Lienhard School of Nursing.