Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition
What is it?
The Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the premiere moot court competition in the world. In 2013 there were over 2,000 students, from over 500 schools in over 80 countries around the world competing in the competition. In the U.S., regional rounds of the competition are held in February of each year, with winning teams going on to compete in the international round of the competition in Washington D.C. in April, against teams from all over the world. The international round, which runs a full week, also over-laps with the American Society of International Law annual meeting in D.C., so students get to rub shoulders with the giants of international law. Judges from the International Court of Justice (the ICJ) are among the judges who preside over the final round. There is simply no more prestigious moot court competition in the world, and arguably no other moot competition that develops advocacy skills as well as the Jessup.
The Washburn Team and Selection Process
The Washburn team comprises five upper year students – four who will write the Memorials (briefs in international law) and make oral arguments, and an “of-counsel” who assists the team in preparation and at the counsel table, and is often a returning member of the team. In addition, a 1L is selected each year to observe and travel with the team to learn about the process for the following year.
The selection process begins early in the fall semester, with tryouts that involve a five minute oral argument on the basis of a past year’s written argument. There are no prerequisites for participation, though students who have taken or are taking Public International Law and other international law related courses, will likely have an advantage. The bulk of the research and writing is done in the Fall semester, with the briefs ("Memorials") to be submitted early in January. The team practices oral advocacy in January and February, and travels to the regional round of the competition in February. There is at least 1 credit available for participation in the Jessup. More information will be made available through announcements about the selection process at the beginning of the semester.
The 2014-2015 Jessup problem, The Case Concerning the Secession and Annexation of East Agnostica (409 KB PDF), was inspired by the Crimean crisis of 2014, with claims of unlawful interference in the internal affairs of another state through the encouragement of secessionist movements, claims of self-determination, and allegations of subsequent annexation of territory, along with additional claims arising from a treaty dispute over mineral resources. The Washburn team lost two close split decisions, and thus did not advance to the knock-out round or on to the international round in Washington D.C. Skip Jordan won an individual prize for 10th top oralist, and the team won 8th best Memorial.
Pictured (left to right): Professor Craig Martin (faculty advisor), James Crux (1L participant), Andrea Plunkett, Skip Jordan, Nicole Southall, Jordan Clothier, and David Cohen.
Past Competitions and Teams
The 2013-2014 Jessup problem, the Case Concerning the Malachi Gap, involved disputes over maritime resources under the law of the sea, liability for environmental harm to fish stocks, the rights of salvage and possession of sunken treasure, and claims of piracy and disputes over jurisdiction for crimes at sea. The Washburn team performed well, but unfortunately lost to the ultimate winner of the Rocky Mountain Super-Regional Round in the very first round. Ending with a record of 2-2 (defeating UMKC and Oklahoma City, but losing to Loyola New Orleans and Gonzaga, Washburn finished in the top half of the competition, but failed to advance to the knock-out round. Brett Shanks won a top oralist award, finishing 9th out of the 88 advocates competing.
Pictured (left to right): Professor Craig Martin (faculty advisor), Brett Shanks, Norah Avellan, Megan Williams (of counsel), Whitney Mills, Nicole Southall (1L rep), and Michael Fessinger.
The 2012-2013 Team
In 2012-2013 the Jessup problem, the Case Concerning the Alfurnan Migrants, involved timely questions flowing from an island nation disappearing beneath the ocean as a result of climate change, triggering issues of statehood, the rights of environmental refugees, human rights violations of migrants, and the seizure of assets of states in crisis. The Washburn team turned in another historic performance finishing 3rd overall in the round-robin phase with a 4-0 record (defeating Louisiana State, William Mitchell, Iowa State, and Michigan State, and making it to the quarter-finals in the Rocky Mountain Super-Regional Competition in Denver (losing to Montana), narrowly missing the trip to DC for the international round. Two of the team won top oralist awards, with with J.D. Hatcher winning 1st place , and Josh Conway taking 7th place.
Pictured (left to right): J.D. Hatcher, Kaitlin Marsh-Blake, Megan Williams, Professor Craig Martin,
Marissa Frederick, Norah Avellan, Joshua Conway.
The 2011-2012 Team
The 2011-2012 Jessup, the Case concerning the Mai-Tocao Temple, involved issues relating to the legitimacy of governments coming to power via a coup, humanitarian intervention and the use of armed force, sovereign immunity, and the obligations to preserve and protect heritage property. The Washburn team turned in an historic performance, finishing first overall among twenty-three teams in the round-robin phase of the Rocky Mountain Super-Regional Competition in Denver (winning against Hameline Univ. Univ. of Iowa, Univ. of Minnesota, and Washington Univ. in St. Louis), and advancing to the semi-final round where it lost in a split-decision against Michigan State. The team won a 5th place award for its Memorial (written brief), and J.D. Hatcher placed 7th in the Top Ten Oralist awards.
Pictured (left to right): John Westerhaus, Kait Marsh, Megan Williams,
Shannon Rush, J.D. Hatcher, and Bryan Cox.