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Moot Court Honor Society Teams Take First and Second at William B. Spong Tournament

Friday, February 21, 2014

The talent and tenacity of the Law School’s Moot Court Honor Society was on display last weekend as St. John’s bested a field of 20 teams to win first and second place at the 43rd William B. Spong Moot Court Tournament. The championship team included student advocates Andrew Lee '14 and Cristina Delise '15, brief specialist Kristin Lee '15, and coach Lauren Bryant '14. The runners-up were student advocates Jason Birriel '15 and Danielle O'Boyle '15, brief specialist Terrence Russell '14, and coach Gabriella Formosa '14. Adjunct Professor Marilyn Filingeri '06 was the faculty coach for both teams.

This year’s invitational tournament considered a hypothetical case involving a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) interim regulation restricting the sale of energy drinks to minors throughout the country. Relying on the good cause exception, the FDA promulgated the regulation without the usual notice-and-comment procedure that helps check an agency’s unilateral rule-making power. There were four issues before the court:

  • Is the zone of interest test jurisdictional or non-jurisdictional?
  • Do energy drink distributors fall within the zone of interest of an Energy Beverage Control Act?
  • What is the appropriate standard of review in determining an agency’s invocation of the good cause exception under the Administrative Procedure Act?
  • Did the FDA have good cause in waiving notice and comment?

The St. John’s teams argued through six appellate-style rounds before panels composed of distinguished members of the bench and bar.

"Coming into this year, my goal for the moot court program was to make us a force to be reckoned with,” said Andrew Lee ‘14, managing director of the Moot Court Honor Society. “This one-two victory is emblematic of what we're truly capable of.” David Hommel, the Moot Court Honor Society’s executive director, echoed Andrew’s optimism: “Three of our four finalists were 2L advocates. I have full confidence that our competitors will continue to elevate our moot court program.”

Acknowledging the dedication of the student advocates and coaches, competitor Cristina Delise said: "My proudest moment as a law student to date was hearing that both St. John's teams advanced to the final round of the Spong Tournament. To have this success so early in my moot court career is a testament to the culture, leadership, and training that permeates this special program. The future of moot court at St. John’s Law is bright and I’m truly excited to be a part of it."

The Moot Court Honor Society will send its member to eight more competitions this spring. The season concludes on April 8, 2014 with the Roy L. Reardon Moot Court Competition, which showcases the program’s top 2L advocates.