Students Advance to Final Round of Lile Moot Court Competition

Moot Court Finalists Are Friends Outside the Courtroom
Adam Stempel, Danielle Desaulniers, Kyle Cole and Tuba Ahmed

Two teams of students have advanced to the final round of the 88th annual William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition. In the first argument Adam Stempel and Danielle Desaulniers argued for the appellant, and in the second argument Kyle Cole and Tuba Ahmed argued for the appellee.

March 1, 2017

Two teams of students are advancing to the final round of the 88th annual William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition, to be held March 25, following the semifinals that were held at the University of Virginia School of Law on Saturday.

In the first argument, Danielle Desaulniers and Adam Stempel, arguing for the appellant, advanced against Harry Marino and Chet Otis, arguing for the appellee.

In the second argument, Tuba Ahmed and Kyle Cole, arguing for the appellee, advanced against Zach Nemtzow and Alex Nemtzow, arguing for the appellant.

Each year, the Lile competition starts with a field of about 80 students in two-person teams, writing briefs and arguing student-written problems before a mock federal bench, which in later rounds includes actual state and federal judges. Over the course of the participants' second and third years, the field is whittled until two teams meet in a final round in the spring.

The competition problem this year involves a scenario in which the U.S. Congress has amended the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prohibit voter discrimination on the basis of "belief" in addition to race, color and language minority status. A fictional lawsuit is challenging a gerrymandered state district map on the basis of this modified version of the act.

The judges of the semifinal round were Judge Amul Thapar of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons '76 of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

One of the teams in the moot court finals is an engaged couple — Stempel and Desaulniers, who plan to get married this summer. Their decision to team up for the competition made sense from a time-management perspective, they said. “We did it together with the idea that, if one of us gets out, then we both get out, so we don’t have to put up with the other person’s spending all their time on it,” Stempel said. He said they got that advice from a married couple who made it to the semi-finals in 2013.

Both teams said they are excited to face each other. They have known each other since Ahmed, Cole and Stempel were in the same section.

“Adam and I have been arguing since the very first time we met, but we’ve been pretty good friends,” said Cole, who will be in Stempel and Desaulniers' wedding party.

The final competition will be held in Caplin Pavilion, starting at 11 a.m. Judge Patricia Millett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Pamela Reeves of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee and Justice David Stras of the Supreme Court of Minnesota will decide the competition’s winners.

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