Supreme Court Case Mooted at Law School
Ithaca, NEW YORK, October 9, 2012
On October 1, attorney David Frederick argued Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida, before the Supreme Court of the United States. On September 20, he argued it in a moot court convened at Cornell Law School.
Frederick, a partner with Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, P.L.L.C., has argued thirty-eight cases in the Supreme Court, including eleven in the past three Terms. In the Lozman case, he represented the respondent, the City of Riviera Beach, which has been embroiled in a six-year legal battle with resident Fane Lozman over a houseboat once moored in the city’s marina. For the Supreme Court, the issue raised by the case was one of jurisdiction: whether a floating structure that is indefinitely moored, receives power and other utilities from shore, and is not intended to be used in maritime transportation or commerce constitutes a “vessel” and thus falls under federal maritime law.
“While [the issue] may seem arcane, the case presents, on the procedural side, much more universal issues,” says Kevin M. Clermont, the Robert D. Ziff Professor of Law, who wrote an amicus brief on behalf of Riviera Beach. “I wrote the amicus brief on the nature of subject-matter jurisdiction; this goes to the heart of both the limits on the judicial branch and also the division between federal and state authority.”
Clermont served as one of four judges in the moot proceedings, which served as part of Frederick’s preparations. Also on the bench were Cornell Law professors Michael C. Dorf, the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law, who has written extensively on constitutional law and has served as both a counsel and an amicus curiae in Supreme Court cases; John J. Barceló III, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of International and Comparative Law and Elizabeth and Arthur Reich Director of the Leo and Arvilla Berger International Legal Studies Program and a leading scholar in international trade and international commercial arbitration; and John H. Blume, Professor of Law, Director of Clinical, Advocacy and Skills Programs, and Director of the Cornell Death Penalty Project, who has argued many cases before the Supreme Court.
After Frederick made his arguments, extending the session beyond the thirty minutes allotted in official proceedings in order to receive as many questions as possible from the panel, the judges concluded the mooting and switched gears to offer observations and advice. Frederick then took questions from the students packing the lecture hall.
“I greatly appreciated the skill and dedication of the professors who mooted me,” says Frederick. “The student interest in the event was fantastic, and I enjoyed the opportunity to answer so many excellent questions from them after the moot court ended. I'm grateful for all the efforts of my friend, Adjunct Professor Bruce Bryan, who was a wonderful organizer and host. I also want to express my thanks to Dean Schwab for supporting this event.”