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First-Year Students Compete in Langfan Family Moot Court Competition

Ithaca, NEW YORK, May 9
A bullet hole, a cache of weapons, and a phone call were among the elements that confronted 126 fledgling law students as they embarked on the Langfan Family First Year Moot Court Competition. The scenario, drafted by Cornell Law’s Moot Court Board and loosely based on a case currently pending before the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, addressed the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement in the Fourth Amendment, as well as the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine.



The tournament culminated in the MacDonald Moot Court Room on April 14, with Kelsey Baldwin’14 representing the petitioner and Ari Diaconis’14 the respondent. The two finalists faced a distinguished, and formidable, panel of guests judges: Hon. Brian M. Cogan ’79 of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York; Hon. Kimberly J. Mueller of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California; Hon. Suzanne H. Segal ’87 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California; and Hon. A. Bruce Campbell ’70 of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado.

"Each of this year's competitors displayed amazing oral advocacy skills and impressive mastery of the case law and the problem,” says Moot Court Board chancellor Hahn Liu ’13. “The two finalists remained extremely poised under the difficult questioning from the four federal judges." After deliberations, the panel awarded first place to Baldwin.

Presenting their decision, the judges offered notes, advice, and, most of all, praise of the participants’ knowledgeable and articulate performances. “The first thing I want to say is: First year law students?” remarked Cogan incredulously. “As we say in Brooklyn, fuggedaboutit. I would be more than pleased to have either of you in front of me any day of the week.”

The competition was both more fun and more rewarding than I anticipated,” says Baldwin. “I really enjoyed the opportunity to practice thinking on my feet and trying to anticipate what road the judges' questions were leading me down. Furthermore, there was a great camaraderie among all the participants, and I got a chance to really interact with people that I only knew in passing before.”

Diaconis concurs: "Langfan was a blast. It was also one of the more intensive learning experiences in law school so far. I gained tremendous respect for my classmates, the moot court program, and all the judges."

Baldwin will receive a prize of $500, and Diaconis will receive $250. The prizes, as well as the operating expenses of the competition, are supported through a 2002 endowment made by William K. Langfan and Marion Langfan.

-- Owen Lubozynski