25th Annual National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition

Last week Pace Law School hosted the 25th annual National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition.  Seventy-two teams from all across the country came to compete and over 200 attorneys donated their time to judge.  Vermont Law School, depicted below, won both Overall Best Brief and the Oral Competition.

The Problem:

This year’s problem revolved around an allegation of wetland filling on privately owned property, which is a potential violation of the Clean Water Act.  The Defendant was bulldozing and filling 1,000 acres of his property without a § 404 permit. A NGO, New Union Wildlife Federation sent the Defendant a notice of violation letter.  Before the NGO could sue, the state permitting authority, New Union Department of Environmental Protection (“NUDEP”), filed their own citizen suit which culminated in a pending consent decree in the lower court which requires the Defendant to only restore around 3 acres and did not seek civil penalties. New Union Wildlife Federation then filed a citizen suit alleging a continuing violation of CWA § 404 seeking greater enforcement.  The defendant filed a summary judgment motion claiming that 1) NUWF does not have standing, 2) the violations are wholly past, 3) they have been diligently prosecuted against, and 4) there was “no addition” as required by the CWA.  NUDEP intervened in the case.

The Final Round Judges:

This year’s competition had four distinguished Judge’s as the panel for the final round: Honorable Catherine McCabe from the Environmental Appeals Board, Honorable Joseph Bellacosa who is retired from the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, Honorable Edgardo Ramos who currently resides in the Southern District of New York, and Honorable Malachy Mannion, a Pace alumni, who currently resides in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. These judges were a very prepared and active bench for the three finalists on Saturday afternoon.

The Winners:

The three finalists in the Oral Competition were Vermont Law School, Lewis & Clark Law School, and Appalachian School of Law.  Vermont Law School was deemed by the distinguished judges to have the strongest team and won the Oral Competition.  Lewis & Clark has been a team which consistently makes it to the final round and performed very well.  Appalachian School of Law had both their first trip to the finals and their first advancement past the preliminary rounds this year and held their own.  All of these teams did very well and beat some talented teams on their way to the finals including last year’s winner, University of Mississippi.

Some of the other winners include:

Best Oralist Lindsey Lehrmann from Baylor Law School

Best Brief for the Defendant-Appellee Loyola Law School

Best Brief Intervenor-Appellant (NUDEP) Wayne State University Law School

The Semi-Finalists, Quarter Finalists, and Best Oralists Honorable Mentions can be found at the following website: www.law.pace.edu/2013-winners.

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