NDLS Moot Court Hosts Religious Freedom Tournament

Author: Denise Wager

The Notre Dame Law School Moot Court Board recently hosted its inaugural National Appellate Advocacy Tournament for Religious Freedom.

“This event started as an idea last April and truly came to fruition this weekend,” said Matthew Ciulla, 3L, tournament director of the Notre Dame Moot Court Board. “Our tournament brought academics, law students, and attorneys from around the country together to discuss the Establishment Clause, while allowing students to hone their oral advocacy and brief-writing skills.”

The competition was organized by NDLS students and was co-sponsored by the Program on Church, State & Society. Eleven moot court teams from across the country participated.

Texas Tech University School of Law won the competition. Stanford Law School placed second and Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law at Barry University placed third. Ave Maria School of Law, J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, DePaul University College of Law, Emory University School of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law, and William & Mary Law School also competed in the tournament.

Anna Caruso from BYU won the Best Oralist Award, and Mariah Mauck and Sarah Scrivner from Texas Tech won the Best Brief Award.

The judges for the competition were Judge Michael G. Gotsch, Sr., ’79 B.A., ’87 J.D., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana; Thomas M. Fisher, Indiana Solicitor General; Robin Fretwell Wilson, professor of law at Illinois College of Law; Maxwell Goss, Ph.D, ’09 J.D., partner at Rossman Saxe, P.C.; and Christine Venter, professor at Notre Dame Law School and director of the NDLS legal writing program.

“We are grateful to the judges for enthusiastically lending their time and expertise. It was an honor to welcome them to campus,” said Christina Dines, 3L, president of the Notre Dame Moot Court Board. “They truly brought the case problem to life, and were eager to interact with the competitors both on and off the bench.”

NDLS alumni, Catherine Dines, ’15 J.D., Matthew Enzweiler, Michael Mikulic, and Thomas McAndrew, all ’16 J.D., were also judges.

“Our alumni judges’ enthusiasm and energy was unparalleled,” Dines said. “We were excited to witness firsthand how their experiences at Notre Dame Law School shaped their interest in both religious freedom and appellate advocacy.”

The Notre Dame Moot Court Board plans to host this tournament annually.

“The tournament allowed us to showcase our board’s talent, welcome our national peers to our University, foster interest in the realm of religious freedom, and contribute to a legacy of service. It will be exciting to watch the tournament continue to grow,” Dines said.

“With the institutional knowledge that Notre Dame brings to a religious-freedom event, coupled with the generous support of the Program on Church, State & Society, we knew that the tournament would find a natural home at Notre Dame. The zealous advocacy and passion for religious freedom we saw this weekend exceeded even our high expectations,” Ciulla said.
Moot Court Image 1
Notre Dame Moot Court Board President
Christina Dines and Tournament Director
Matthew Ciulla at the final round in
McCartan Courtroom.

Moot Court Image 2
Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher,
the Honorable Michael G. Gotsch, Sr., and
Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson presiding
over the final round.

Moot Court Image 3
Back row, left to right: Tournament Director
Matthew Ciulla, Dr. Maxwell Goss, Indiana
Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher, the
Honorable Michael G. Gotsch, Sr., Professor
Christine Venter, Professor Robin Fretwell
Wilson, Notre Dame Moot Court Board
President Christina Dines. Front row,
left to right: First Place Team Texas Tech,
Jessica Morrison,Emilie Blake.

Moot Court Image 4
Final round arguments in the McCartan