St. John’s School of Law and American Bankruptcy Institute Host 22nd Annual Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Georgia State University College of Law overcame a tough challenge from the Mississippi College School of Law to win the 22th Annual Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition.  A record 61 teams from law schools around the country competed in New York from March 1-3, 2014 at the nation’s only moot court competition devoted to bankruptcy law.

The competition is sponsored by the St. John’s Law and the American Bankruptcy Institute and is named for distinguished St. John’s alumnus and former ABI Director Chief Judge Conrad B. Duberstein, who passed away in 2005 at the age of 90.

The ABI Endowment Fund provided the first place team with $5,000 and the second place team with a $3,000 prize. The Texas Tech University School of Law and the University of Memphis School of Law each received $1,500 for their third place tie.  The University of Memphis also won $1,000 for the Best Brief.  Jennifer D’Augustinis, a student at the Florida Coastal School of Law, won the $1,000 Best Oral Advocate award.

The event culminated with the gala awards banquet at the Sheraton in Times Square. Almost 1,000 guests, including many of the leading New York bankruptcy judges and practitioners, attended the event. Hon. Cecelia G. Morris, Chief Judge for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, delivered a tribute to long-term Southern District Bankruptcy Judge Burton R. Lifland, who passed away earlier this year. Judge Lifland was a major force in the creation of modern bankruptcy law. Hon. Carla E. Craig, Chief Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York, honored beloved former Clerk of the Eastern District Joseph P. Hurley, who also passed away earlier this year. Mr. Hurley became the Clerk when Judge Duberstein was Chief Judge and he helped establish the competition.

Nearly 200 lawyers and judges helped judge the event, which included eight rounds of arguments.  In addition to New York area Bankruptcy Judges, the ABI brought in a dozen Bankruptcy Judges from around the nation to judge the advanced rounds.

Held at the Conrad Duberstein United States Bankruptcy Courthouse in Brooklyn, the final round was judged by a panel of distinguished federal jurists that included:

  • Hon. Bernice B. Donald, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Hon. David H. Coar, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Ret.)
  • Hon. Laura Taylor Swain, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Hon. Cecelia G. Morris, Chief Judge, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Hon. Carla E. Craig, Chief Judge, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York

Each year, the competition problem focuses on two sophisticated, cutting-edge issues of bankruptcy law. Past competitions addressed environmental clean up costs, channeling injunctions in mass tort cases, state sovereign immunity, the constitutionality of the bankruptcy courts, religious entity bankruptcies, and the constitutionality of speech restrictions imposed on consumer bankruptcy attorneys, to name just a few of the problem topics. 

This year’s problem again raised two timely unresolved issues of bankruptcy law: (1) whether the rejection of a trademark license terminates the non-debtor licensee’s right to continue using the mark; and (2) whether the Bankruptcy Code has extraterritorial application to transactions centered outside of the United States.

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