In this year’s Lile Moot Court semifinals, which will take place on Saturday, February 20, only one of the two rounds will consist of two teams arguing against each other to make it to the finals. The other round will be an exhibition, consisting of third-year quarterfinalists Megan Lacy and Christine Mandell, who did not advance to the semifinals, arguing against third-years Nick Nelson and Fiona McCarthy, who have been granted a bye and advanced to the final round. Third-years Lanora Pettit and Casey Lee, the team which Nelson and McCarthy were slated to faced on Saturday, withdrew from the competition last week.
The circumstances leading up to the exhibition round were mired in confusion and controversy. Pettit and Lee chose to withdraw after being informed by the Lile Moot Court Board that, in addressing the second issue, Pettit had written the “wrong” side of the question. The question presented was “[w]hether a challenged sentencing departure is reviewed independently from the reasonableness of the sentence as a whole.” Pettit and Lee, who were representing the government, were told in their materials that “the United States seeks review of the sentence as a whole, rather than reviewing the departure separately,” but argued instead for independent review.
In order not to penalize Nelson and McCarthy, the Board informed both teams via email that they would include a letter to the judge, “explaining how sides were assigned and that part II of [Pettit and Lee]’s brief did not comply with our assignment. It will be clear that [McCarty and Nelson]’s brief does comply with our intended assignment.”
. . .
Feeling that they were being treated unfairly, Pettit and Lee chose to withdraw from the competition, rather than participate in what they believed would be a futile oral argument.
The Law Weekly did a pretty good job (indeed, the full article has some pretty choice quotations from both the head of the Lile board and the one of the withdrawing team members), so we don't have to much to add, except that we hope that the arguments today - such as they were - went well for all involved, and congratulate those who advance.
[EDIT] Here's how one commenter described the the oral arguments:
During their comments, the judges from the morning arguments said something like "for issue 2, we were all really confused as to why the competitors were assigned to argue the sides they did." They thought that in the real world, on that issue, the appellant would have made the argument the appellee was assigned to make, and vice versa.[EDIT #2 - Editor's Note]: I've had to delete a few of the comments because they contained excessive ad hominem attacks / were excessively vitriolic. If you have a point to make, you can make it without engaging in (crude) ad hominem attacks. Additionally, for reasons discussed earlier, if you are going to make a claim that is unverifiable, damaging, and includes someone's google-able name, I may take it down, because I believe the harm in publishing such things on UVA Law Blog outweighs whatever the benefits might be. Just my personal take, given the goals of this site and the positions of the editors; other sites may have different editorial policies, and you are free to visit them as well. Feel free to email me / comment if you have questions - thanks.
All three made the point at the very beginning, and then one or two judges made the same point AGAIN later.
Withdrawal Taints Lile Semifinals [Law Weekly]