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ASU Moot Court team brings home national championship in brief writing, trophy

Jan. 19, 2009 -- Arkansas State University-Jonesboro’s Moot Court team, housed in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, has brought home a national championship in the brief writing competition. Ryan Mullenix of Jonesboro and Abram Skarda of Des Arc won the Petitioner’s Brief competition and are 2009 AmericanFrom left, Ryan Mullenix, John C. Eastman, Dean and Donald P. Kennedy Chair in Law at Chapman University School of Law, and Abram Skarda relax after the Mullenix-Skarda team won the Petitioner's Brief Competition at the 2009 American Collegiate Moot Court championships at the Chapman School of Law in Orange Co., Ca.                  Collegiate Moot Court National Champions. Mullenix and Skarda brought home a trophy for their efforts. Their teammates Nate Conley, a junior History major from Mountain View, and Nick Adkins, a senior Journalism major from Pocahontas, took 5th place in the same competition. In addition, ASU Moot Court team members advanced to the round of 32 in the Oral Advocacy portion of the competition, finishing 20th in the nation. The American Collegiate Moot Court National Championships were held at the Chapman School of Law in Orange County, Ca., Jan. 16-17.

Ryan Mullenix is a junior corporate finance major, and Abram Skarda is a sophomore political science major. Mullenix and Skarda also received awards at the regional competition prior to their national win—they won two speaker awards, ranking 4th (Mullenix) and 5th (Skarda) out of 88 students competing.

Dr. Hans Hacker, assistant professor of political science and moot court team coach, says “To bring a national championship back to campus is a testament to our students’ academic skill and work ethic. They clearly write and argue as well as any students in the nation.” Dr. Gloria Gibson, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, agrees, saying, “
To think that our team won the national championship in brief writing – this is extraordinary.” Dr. Glen Jones, senior associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research and executive assistant to the chancellor for diversity, says, “We thank our students for demonstrating the quality of an Arkansas State University education.”

In November, the ASU Moot Court team competed in a regional competition, the Southwestern Regional Championships, and garnered two top speaker awards there. The Southwestern Regional Championships were held in mid-November at the Texas Tech University Law School in Lubbock. There,
several moot court team members won individual awards, and three teams qualified for the national moot court competition. Three of the top four teams after preliminary rounds in the tournament were A State teams.

Forty-four teams from ten universities competed in the regional tournament. After the preliminary rounds (where each team argues three times), Arkansas State teams were ranked first place, second place, fourth place, and twenty-eighth place. ASU’s first-place team consisted of Brian Rambin, a senior from Athens, Ga., and Ashton Gilstrap,Ashton Gilstrap, left, and Brian Rambin were the regional second-ranked team at the American Collegiate Moot Court's Southwestern Regional Championships. a sophomore from Little Rock. Brian Rambin is majoring in political science, an Ashton Gilstrap is majoring in political science/philosophy.

ASU’s Marlon Lemons of West Memphis, a freshman political science major, and Jervonne Newsome of Jonesboro, a political science/philosophy double major, also qualified for national competition with an automatic bid.

The team of Brian Rambin and Ashton Gilstrap argued into the finals at Texas Tech, beating teams from the University of Texas-Dallas, the University of North Texas, and the University of Texas-Austin. They lost to a team from the University of North Texas in the finals, but emerged as the second-ranked team from the region. Abram Skarda and Ryan Mullenix ranked 8th regionally and also received an automatic bid to the national competition.

Moot Court competition involves students arguing a hypothetical case before a fictitious Supreme Court composed of attorneys, judges, public officials and/or law school students. It combines training in all the things any lawyer would say are crucial for a career—speaking/advocacy, writing, and research skills. Moot court also allows ASU undergraduates to meet law students, law school professors, career attorneys, and sitting judges. Opportunities to network with law school students and faculty abound.

The ASU Moot Court Team is a competitive team participating in the Southwestern and South Central Region of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (the organization overseeing national undergraduate moot court competition). The team travels throughout the region and nation competing against other undergraduate teams. Competitions are usually held at law schools. All competitions are judged by third year law students, professors, practicing attorneys and sitting judges.

As team coach and sponsor Dr. Hans Hacker, political science, says, “An important part of competition is making contacts with law schools. Texas Tech’s Law School expressed real interest in two of our students, Brian Rambin and Nick Adkins. Brian Rambin was encouraged to apply, and Adkins is applying next year. Texas Tech is also considering offering a tuition scholarship to one ASU student each year.”

While at Texas Tech Law School, the moot court teams also had the opportunity to hear a lecture by United States Supreme Court associate justice Antonin Scalia. Earlier this semester, ASU’s moot court teams attended the dedication of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville School of Law’s new building and heard retired United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor speak.

For more information about ASU’s Moot Court team, contact Dr. Hans Hacker (, pre-law advisor and team coach, Department of Political Science, or Dr. Richard Wang (, chair, Department of Political Science at (870) 972-3048.



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