In what continues to be a staple on the Wabash calendar each year, the 28th annual Moot Court competition wrapped up this Wednesday with Cooper Smith ‘23 overcoming the three-round, week-long endeavor and securing Top Advocate. This is Smith’s second time taking home top honors during his time at the College.
“After last semester’s virtual Moot Court, it was amazing to be back in person,” said Smith. “For me, Moot Court means diving headfirst into a fascinating problem and figuring out how to make sense of it.”
The Wabash tradition saw a final with one senior, three juniors, and a freshman in the alternate spot, highlighting how anyone can succeed and stand out regardless of class year or post-Wabash aspirations. Although Professor of Rhetoric and Acting Dean of the College Todd McDorman did not run operations this year, his admiration and investment into the competition do not wane. “I enjoyed watching [the competition] from a different perspective,” said McDorman. “I greatly appreciate the work the students put in and everything that went into running another great competition.”
As McDorman touches on, this event for those who have done it before and those who are involved yearly offer new insights and areas of Moot Court that make it the storied event it has become at the College.
As we see each year, students are thrown into the fire right away in the preliminary rounds. The first round had 30 individuals begin the journey to becoming the next Moot Court winner, with only 12 individuals making it to the second round held on Monday. In the semifinals, students argued before a new panel of judges, including Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher ‘91.
Like every year, the competition ends with four remaining students vying for top honors. This year’s finalists included Cooper Smith ‘23, Jakob Goodwin ‘23, Vasilios Antonopoulos ‘22, and Andrew Hollingsworth ‘23, making up the esteemed group of Wabash men. Smith, now a three-year finalist, and Goodwin are returning finalists, with Antonopoulos and Hollingsworth making it to the finals for the first time.
The US Supreme Court heard oral argument for the actual version of this semester’s case last month. The case arose out of the trial for the Boston Marathon bomber, and at its core, it asks what a “fair trial” means in the social media age. Antonopoulos and Smith argued on behalf of the US government, and Hollingsworth and Goodwin argued on behalf of the defendant.
For the Finals, the Chief Justice was Christopher M. Goff, a Justice for the Indiana Supreme Court since 2017. The other three Justices included Robert R. Altice Jr., who has served on the Indiana Court of Appeals since 2015; Joshua “Josh” Minkler ‘85, a partner at the Indianapolis law firm Barnes & Thornburg; and Dr. Shamira Gelbman, Daniel F. Evans Associate Professor in the Social Sciences and Chair of the Political Science Department.
The competition’s finalists annually argue in front of a panel of judges, featuring an alumnus attorney, a professor, and two at-large real-life judges.
Over Zoom or housed at the Fine Arts Center’s Ball Theater, the competition’s significance for participants, organizers, and the whole Wabash community is not taken for granted. “Whether online like last year or wholly in-person like this year, Moot Court has provided an invaluable opportunity and experience to prepare for the practice of law,” said Goodwin.
“Moot Court has been one of the highlights of my Wabash career. It’s helping me learn to think on my feet and advocate for causes I care about,” said Smith.
A Message from the Editor-in-Chief
Moot Court and 9 of the last 16 finalists of the competition have in common? Going to law school would probably be a good guess (thinking about it, I would not be surprised). Editors or prominent writers for The Bachelor.
I will preface now, I am not writing a prolonged self-boast on The Bachelor or anything like that. Instead, trying to understand this point in my Wabash career and speak on the relevance and significance of two things consequential during my time at the College – Moot Court and The Bachelor. The memories of my time or connection to both are not often filled with moments focused on me or about me. It is the people and friends I have made over the years as an Editor, now Editor-in-Chief. Or as an invested onlooker, which includes some of the more educational, smile-inducing, and many of my all-nighters during my Wabash career.
Looking back, I cannot help but think of Jake Vermeulen ‘21, a former Editor-in-Chief and four-time finalist (Spring 2021 Winner), and how his mentorship and friendship has and will continue to be integral to my last few months at Wabash and what comes next. I can also point to Cooper Smith ‘23 (News Editor and 2x Winner of Moot Court) and Jakob Goodwin ‘23 (Opinion Editor and 2x Moot Court Finalist). And how I have been able to see their growth while also appreciating the relationships I have made with them. These three students are only a few of many during my time here that inspire my own growth, but they are prime examples of what The Bachelor and Moot Court offer Wabash students.
Wabash is predicated on forging leaders of industry and innovators for the future needs and insights in our world. For me, finding yourself involved in either or both is a great place to start to ensure future success. For current students, think of Wabash alumni you may not know but have at least heard of because they are “notable” alumni. I have a pretty good feeling that these men during their time at the College participated (post-1995, of course) in Moot Court or had some connection to The Bachelor. I do not think that is by accident.
Whether it is daily through The Bachelor or on an annual basis with the Moot Court competition, I feel lucky and more confident in what is ahead through those experiences. Especially with the students and faculty that are part of that journey with me.
These two things do not require any specific major, background, class year, or anything to do. Even then, they are two of the more rewarding, inspiring hallmarks of what makes Wabash the place it has been and what it will be for students in future generations.
I encourage and highlight being part of The Bachelor and Moot Court not just because they are important to me but because of the value and lessons that can be gained along the way.