2004 Moot Court issue: gag orders

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The 14th Annual National First Amendment Moot Court Competition sponsored by the First Amendment Center and the Vanderbilt University Law School will be held Feb. 26 -27 at Vanderbilt Law School and the First Amendment Center.

This year’s legal-debate problem involves the constitutionality of a judicial “gag” order. In the hypothetical situation to be debated by the law-student participants, the gag order is issued after a politically charged prosecution for a police killing has resulted in a hung jury and mistrial declaration. A discharged juror is cited and punished for contempt for violating the gag order by speaking publicly about the what he believed were racist and authoritarian tactics employed by police and prosecutors.

Competing this year are 32 teams of law students from across the U.S. — California, Arizona, New York, Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin.

More than 200 local attorneys, professors and scholars will judge the preliminary rounds.

Semifinal and final-round judges:

Richard S. Arnold
8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Martha Craig Daughtrey
6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Robert L. Echols
District Judge, Middle District of Tennessee

Sidney A. Fitzwater
District Judge, Northern District of Texas

Julia Smith Gibbons
6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

William J. Haynes Jr.
District Judge, Middle District of Tennessee

Gilbert S. Merritt
6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Aleta A. Trauger
District judge, Middle District of Tennessee

Bernice Donald
U.S. District judge, Western District of Tennessee

A.A. Birch
Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court