Law School students win top awards again at national moot court competition

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Derek Kauanoe, (808) 729-0289
Faculty Specialist, Law
Posted: Feb 29, 2012

Competing UH Manoa law students and faculty
Competing UH Manoa law students and faculty
Team in court attire
Team in court attire
UH Mānoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law students won seven out of nine top awards at the National Native American Law Students Association’s 20th Annual Moot Court Competition, held in Honolulu on February 24-25, 2012.  UH Mānoa students won first, second, and (tied) for third place in the Best Advocate category. They also placed first and second place in the Best Oralist category; and second and third in the Best Brief category.  

Fifty-six teams, representing 28 law schools, competed.  Competing law schools included: Columbia, Cornell, the University of Michigan, the University of Washington, and the University of California Los Angeles.  After preliminary rounds on Friday, all five UH teams proceeded to the top 16 elimination rounds Saturday morning.  Four moved on to the quarter-final round and then three moved on to the semi-final round along with a team from Columbia Law School.

In the final round, two Hawaiʻi teams competed in an appellate argument held at the Hawai‘i Supreme Court.  The final round panel of judges consisted of Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Clifton, Arkansas Law School Dean (and former Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice) Stacy Leeds, Chair of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission (and former Governor) John Waihee III, and Pilar Thomas, Deputy Director in the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs who previously served as Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior.  A standing-room only crowd, including Chair of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Colette Machado and OHA Trustee Oz Stender, heard the final arguments.  

“We’re excited about our performance this year,” stated third year law student Adam Roversi. “We practiced three times a week.”  Roversi, a Kaua’i resident, is also the team’s captain this year.

Professor Williamson Chang, the team’s faculty advisor said, “We’re very proud of our students.  Over the past few years, they’ve consistently done well in this particular competition.”  Between 1997 and 2011, the Law School won 23 awards in this competition according to the team’s UH-based website.  This year’s win brings the team to 30 awards.

Competition awards are as follows:

Best Advocate Category
First Place - Tyler Gomes and Teri Wright - University of Hawaiʻi
Second Place - Caycie Gusman and Catherine Hall - University of Hawaiʻi
Third Place - Shefali Singh and Caroline Stover - Columbia Law School tied with Zachary DiIonno and Fawn Jade Koopman - University of Hawaiʻi

Best Legal Brief
First Place - Jocelyn Jenks and Jacquelyn Jampolsky - University of Colorado
Second Place - Caycie Gusman and Catherine Hall - University of Hawaiʻi
Third Place - Zachary DiIonno and Fawn Jade Koopman - University of Hawaiʻi
Best Oralist
First Place - Tyler Gomes - University of Hawaiʻi
Second Place - Ana Won Pat Borja - University of Hawaiʻi
Third Place - Cecelia Knapp - William Mitchell School of Law

Other student participants include: Adam Roversi, Elika Otoya Stimpson, Jarrett Keohokalole, and Randall Wat.

This year’s competition problem involved a fictitious Pacific indigenous group facing many of the same issues faced by Native Hawaiians.  The issues dealt with federal recognition and membership. The competition was followed by a public symposium held on Sunday, February 26, at the Law School.  The symposium focused on Native rolls, membership definitions, inherent sovereignty and federal recognition.  
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs was the lead sponsor of this year’s events. More information regarding the competition is available online at:


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