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January 25, 2018

SVSU moot court program reinforces ranking among national elite

Headshot of moot court standout Gabe KlotzSaginaw Valley State University's nationally-ranked moot court team achieved new milestones for the program at the American Moot Court Association national tournament at UNT Dallas-College of Law in Dallas, Texas Jan. 19-20.

Gabe Klotz, a political science major from Midland, won the third place orator award for his performance at the competition. Klotz won the first place orator award in 2017 and is now the first student to win an orator award twice for SVSU.

Lindsey Mead, an English literature major from Saginaw, placed No. 17 in the orator awards. This marks the first time SVSU has won two orator awards in the same year.

Julie Keil, SVSU assistant professor of political science and moot court adviser, said winning two orator awards is testament to the students’ preparation and determination.

“To put this in context,” Keil said, “over 850 students competed in regional tournaments this year, 160 made it to the national tournament and our students were in the top 20 out of that very elite group. This is a very real credit to the quality of our students, their strong work ethic and the support from the university and local bar associations for this program.”

Acting as teams of two attorneys, students competing in the tournament are tasked with arguing two hypothetical legal cases based on real-life courtroom battles. The competition is judged based on the clarity of the students' argument, their public speaking skills, their ability to answer questions, and how well they know the law and the case.

Joshua Atkins, an English literature major from Reese, teamed with Klotz; they advanced to the second day of the tournament, bowing out in the round of 32.

Jrew Brickel, a criminal justice major from Midland, paired with Mead; they narrowly missed advancing to the second day. Their team won one round, and received a tied ballot in the second round; they needed to win that round to advance.

SVSU is currently ranked No. 24 in the country out of the more than 425 colleges and universities who field undergraduate moot teams. Keil said SVSU should remain in the top 25 after this year’s strong showing.

A key reason for the program’s sustained success is the support the students receive from SVSU alumni and faculty, and local attorneys.

“We had tremendous support for the program this year,” Keil said. “Amy Hendrickson, assistant professor of law; Robert Dunn, a local attorney and adjunct instructor of criminal justice, and SVSU alumni Mark Babcock and Jacob Mojica deserve a lot of credit for making this work. We have done more work with the students this year than in any other year and it has clearly paid off.”

The SVSU team traveled to Texas for five days of scrimmages and preparation - and away from the everyday distractions back home - ahead of the national tournament. The Ludington Family Foundation, a Sanford-based nonprofit, provided funding to cover the group’s travel expenses.