CSU C|M|LAW BLSA Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Team Wins National Championship

Posted 2021-03-18 2:32pm

CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s Black Law Students Association Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Team topped teams from law schools throughout the country to win the National Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition.  The CSU C|M|LAW team featured 3L students Alexis Bovell, Anita Davenport and Vanessa Gomez, coached by CSU C|M|LAW alumni Theo Hudson '12, and Emily Stolfer '17.

A total of 54 law school teams competed in the regional competitions with 18 teams from the six regions of the National Black Law Students Association qualifying for the National Competition held virtually in early March.  The CSU C|M|LAW team bested teams from law schools including Columbia, Loyola of Chicago, Tulane, DePaul, Penn State, Washington and Lee and William and Mary, among others who had qualified for the National Competition, earning the championship after blazing through a preliminary round and then four elimination rounds of competition.

This is CSU C|M|LAW’s second Thurgood Marshall Moot Court National Championship.  The first came in 2017 with Stolfer as a member of that team along with DeAngelo LaVette ’17.  Hudson also served as a coach for that team.

“It is immensely satisfying to see these current students carry on the legacy of this program,” said Stolfer. “As someone lost in the earlier rounds of my first year at Nationals and then won the championship the following year, I understand the satisfaction of redemption.  I am so happy for my team to see that their hard work paid off and no one can take this title from them.”

The same trio of Bovell, Davenport and Gomez made up last year’s CSU C|M|LAW Thurgood Marshall Moot Court team that won the Midwest Regional Championship and gained valuable experience qualifying for the national competition. 

“I knew from the very moment that these three tried out for moot court that we would have something special,” explained Hudson.  “Their oration styles are totally different but mesh together very well. After this same team made it to the national competition’s Elite Eight elimination round as rookies last year, my expectation this year was a national title.”

This year added an additional wrinkle for the team as it was the first time the competition had been held virtually due to ongoing COVID-19 safety protocols. The CSU C|M|LAW team spent months preparing for competition, including how to conduct effective arguments virtually.

“Competing virtually this year added several layers of difficulty,” explained Davenport.  “It’s more difficult to gauge one's body language online, as opposed to in person. Therefore, we wanted to make sure that we paid special attention to the judges' facial expressions and the inflection in their voices. We were also mindful of how our facial expressions and tone would be perceived by the judges.”

The national competition was judged by a total of 187 federal, state, and local judges, as well as attorneys from around the country.  One of those judges was Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine, who judged in four national moot court competitions this year.  Justice DeWine told the CSU C|M|LAW team that their performance in the final round was the best of any team in the four competitions he judged.

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