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Cameras in the Courtroom: Longhorn Network Films Moot Court Competition

Earlier this spring, the Longhorn Network television channel filmed the 2014 Thad T. Hutcheson 1L Moot Court Competition at The University of Texas School of Law. Sixty-four Texas Law students tackled a case that had been set before the Texas Supreme Court. Two currently sitting justices from the court participated in the final-round panel.

The venerable jurists were: Judge Lee Yeakel, ’69, United States District Court, Western District of Texas; Justice Jeff Brown, Texas Supreme Court; Justice Debra Lehrmann, ’82, Texas Supreme Court; Magistrate Judge Mark Lane, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas; and Professor Lynn Blais, co-director of Texas Law’s Supreme Court Clinic.

“We had tremendous support from the Austin legal community, and our Texas Law alumni in particular, who volunteered to judge in the competition,” said Wayne Schiess, director of The David J. Beck Center for Legal Research, Writing and Appellate Advocacy, which vets the problem and administers the Hutcheson Competition. “The competition was a great success. As is typical here at Texas Law, we had outstanding student competitors.”

Jasper Hicks and Meaghan Nowell were the 2014 finalists of the annual competition. Nowell, who received her undergraduate degree from Baylor University, was the ultimate champion.

The Court was asked to decide whether social hosts could be liable for an accident caused by an intoxicated guest leaving a post-graduation party.

“While Texas law generally provides protection from liability for social hosts, the hosts here specifically said they would provide a safe, alcohol-free party for the high school graduates,” explained Legal Writing Lecturer Kamela Bridges, who helped design the problem. “The issue required students to grapple with competing policy arguments.”

Students representing the plaintiff argued that the hosts should be responsible for failing to provide the safe atmosphere they promised. Students representing the defendants argued that holding the hosts liable would discourage future hosts from trying to host a safe party for fear of liability.

The Hutcheson Competition was established in 1987 through an endowment created by a law firm with which Thomas T. Hutcheson, ’73, was then affiliated, Hutcheson & Grundy, and is named after his father, another esteemed alumnus.

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