by Ray Driver, The Jacksonville Bar Association president
The 32nd annual Florida/Georgia moot court competition will be held at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 26 at the Federal Courthouse.
This is one of the grand traditions in the Jacksonville legal community. This competition between the University of Florida and University of Georgia colleges of law is held annually on the Friday before the Florida/Georgia football game.
The event replicates an argument before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning a current but unresolved issue of Federal Constitutional law.
The competition began 32 years ago when Mark Hulsey, a partner with Jacksonville-based Smith Hulsey & Busey and a University of Florida graduate, was asked by the dean of the University of Florida College of Law to sponsor a competition between the moot court teams of the University of Florida and University of Georgia.
The competition was to be held in Jacksonville and timed with the annual football competition between the schools.
Hulsey called Charlie Kimbrell, a lawyer practicing in Miami and a University of Georgia graduate. The two men, both combat veterans of World War II, agreed to co-sponsor the competition.
The event was held from 1970 until 2010 and was called the “Florida/Georgia-Hulsey/Kimbrell.” In 2006, Charlie Kimbrell passed away. Hulsey passed away in 2011.
In 2011, the competition did not occur because there were not funds available to pay the event’s expenses. Fortunately, this year, Atlanta-based law firm Smith Gambrell & Russell has agreed to co-sponsor the event with Smith Hulsey & Busey.
The event is now called the “Florida/Georgia-Hulsey/Gambrell” moot court competition after Mark Hulsey and E. Smythe Gambrell, a founding partner of Smith Gambrell & Russell.
Gambrell was the American Bar Association and American Bar Foundation president from 1955-56 and founded the Legal Aid Society in Atlanta, where he practiced law from 1922 until his death in 1986.
Hulsey was past president of The Florida Bar from 1969-70 and The Jacksonville Bar Association in 1962. He also served as chairman of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, an organization he helped create while he was serving as the state Bar president.
The moot court competition used to be an accurate indicator for the game.
For the first 20 years, with four exceptions, the school that won the competition would lose the football game, but that has not been the case recently. We’ll let you be the “judge” of why those trends exist.
The panel of participating judges this year is: The Honorable Paul C. Huck, District Judge – Miami, The Honorable B. Avant Edenfield, District Judge – Savannah, The Honorable Gerald B. Tjoflat, Senior Circuit Judge – Jacksonville, The Honorable Lisa Godbey Wood, District Judge – Brunswick, and The Honorable Peter T. Fay, Circuit Judge – Miami.
The “record on appeal” for this year’s moot court competition concerns a preacher who has been convicted of federal crimes resulting from his murder of an abortionist. The issues to be decided by the Court include whether a post-verdict affidavit concerning racist comments by jurors is barred from consideration by Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b), whether the United States assistant attorneys’ preemptory challenges based upon religious beliefs are valid and whether the defendant received a constitutionally guaranteed fair trial.
Judges participating in this event consistently remark on the quality of the legal arguments.
All members of the public are welcome to attend the competition, which will be in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Courtroom on the 13th floor of the Jacksonville federal courthouse. The competition begins at 9:30 a.m. and will conclude before noon.
The event will be followed by The Jacksonville Bar Association’s monthly luncheon at the Hyatt Downtown.
Dean Robert Jerry will be speaking on behalf of the University of Florida Levin College of Law and Former Dean David
Shipley will be speaking on behalf of the University of Georgia College of Law. The moot court competitors will be our special guests.
The luncheon starts at noon and will end approximately 1 p.m. The luncheon is free for all members of The Jacksonville Bar Association, and guests can attend for $40.
Reservations can be made by calling 399-4486 or sending an email to email@example.com.