On Thursday, February 16, six Florida Moot Court Team competitors presented their oral arguments at the 33rd Annual Maguire Appellate Advocacy Competition in front of five Florida Supreme Court justices.
Every year Holland & Knight, LLP, and the Florida Moot Court hosts the Annual Maguire Appellate Advocacy Competition to prepare two teams for the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition. Florida Moot Court Team members, family of Raymer F. Maguire, UF Law faculty and students, along with other members of the public, had the opportunity to witness the students present their oral arguments to the Florida Supreme Court Justices.
The event began with a warm welcome to the crowd and a remembrance of Mr. Raymer F. Maguire, who recently passed away.
“This year was particularly special because we hosted justices from the Florida Supreme Court. It was an amazing opportunity for the team and the competitors—one that everyone spent considerable time preparing for,” said Seth Donahoe, 3L.
The competitors argued the two issues on appeal:
- “what level-of-deference should the court afford the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights about the duties of educational institutions to adjudicate allegations of student-on-student assault that occurs off-campus” and
- “whether Title IX allows a claim for relief against a university that refused to investigate an allegation of student-on-student harassment because it occurred purely off-campus and outside the context of any university program.”
The justices did not hold back when questioning the competitors, who all performed well by sticking to their arguments. In the end, Seth Donahoe’s rebuttal lead to the Florida Supreme Court granting petitioner’s request for reversal of the lower court decision.
“I think of our on-campus competitions as exhibitions where our team has the chance to showcase the skills we are cultivating so seeing the culmination of everyone’s efforts come together at the podium means a lot to me,” Donahoe explained. “In that sense, watching my fellow competitors engage complex legal issues with the justices in a meaningful and skilled way was my favorite part of the competition.”