AASU Team Wins First Place at Regional Moot Court Competition


Savannah, GA—October 9, 2004—Two Armstrong Atlantic State University students, Adam Morrison (left) and Kevin O'Donnell (right), recently won first place during the Southeast Moot Court Association Tournament, the first competition of its kind in the southeastern United States. They beat the other 50 students representing Armstrong Atlantic, South University, and the University of Texas-Arlington.

During the competition, teams argued both sides of the case of Samantha Sommerman v. William and Mary DeNolf on the issue of unreasonable search and seizure for suspected child abuse. They were judged based on four qualities: knowledge of subject matter, responses to questions, forensic skill, and courtroom demeanor.

"The competition we faced from our fellow Armstrong students and the visitors from Texas was very strong. The opposing team we faced in the final round was the national winner of last year's competition. We had to compete against some of the best, and brought it home for AASU," said O'Donnell.

O'Donnell, a senior majoring in political science, said participation in the tournament stimulated his interest in legal decisions and gave him better understanding of the issues and legal concepts that courts depend upon to reach opinions. He said the tournament also deepened his understanding of the fourth amendment issues.

O'Donnell is a member of the College Republicans and the Political Science Club, and volunteers with the Chatham County Republican Party. He recently volunteered with the reelection efforts of incumbent U.S. Representative Max Burns.

"The work involved was rigorous as we had to familiarize ourselves with both sides of the case, and the 20 related cases," said Morrison. He credited Professor John Kearnes with "helping his students improve themselves and understand the various legal elements of the case."

Morrison, a political science major and honors student, plans to further his studies at graduate school, possibly law school. He plans to pursue a career as a politician and said the competition honed his speaking skills and boosted his confidence level when speaking to groups of people.

Members of the community who served as judges during the competition also played a major role in its success. Their charge was to challenge the students by asking precise questions to bring out the issues of the case. The judges who participated in the final round of the competition were Susannah Rogers (Lewis, Owens, & Mulherin), Colin McRae (Hunter, McLean, Exley & Dunn), Kathy Bennett (AASU), Jose da Cruz (AASU), and Ned Rinalducci (AASU).

Kearnes, the event organizer, said "the purpose of the competition is to help students learn to get up in front of people, to make arguments, to respond to questioning, and to think on their feet. "These are qualities the participants will need for any kind of profession that is in their future."

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