The Marbut Report: Georgia wins annual moot court competition

The decision in battle that pits the Florida and Georgia law schools is based on the quality of advocacy.

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The University of Georgia Bulldogs made it a clean sweep last week, defeating the University of Florida Gators in the courtroom as well as on the football field.

Thomas Paris and Georgia Turner, second-year students at UGA School of Law, prevailed in the annual Florida-Georgia Hulsey-Gambrell Moot Court Competition on Friday at the Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse.

The University of Florida Levin College of Law was represented by second-year students Skylar Nocita and Dayne Wade.

The competition matches students from each university’s law school who face off in a simulated appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. The competition is conducted each year the day before the annual college football classic in Jacksonville.

The geographically balanced panel of jurists was 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Gerald Tjoflat, who served as chief justice for the competition; U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia Judges Lisa Godbey Wood and William Moore Jr.; and U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Judges Brian Davis and Marcia Morales Howard.

The hypothetical case for the competition concerned whether evidence of a drug crime found in a trash can is sufficient to establish probable cause to secure a search warrant for the residence associated with the trash can and also whether the state may prohibit someone from smoking medical marijuana in a private place since possession of marijuana violates federal law.

The format of the competition, said Smith Hulsey & Busey attorney Lanny Russell, is for the panel to make its decision on the quality of arguments presented by the competing teams rather than the merits of the case.

“The judges make sure the next generation of lawyers are effective advocates,” Russell said.

After the decision was announced, the judges praised the competitors for their arguments and advocacy skills.

“You were so prepared. You listened to our questions and answered our questions instead of pivoting back to your argument,” Howard said.

“Your preparation and talent showed. It made for a difficult decision,” Wood said.

The tournament record stands at 24 wins for Georgia, 11 wins for Florida and two ties.

Applicants needed for board vacancies

The Florida Bar board of governors is seeking applications for six lawyers, one from each state appellate district and one at-large member, to serve two-year terms commencing Jan. 1 on the Florida Realtor-Attorney Joint Committee.

The committee comprises 11 lawyers appointed by The Florida Bar and 11 Realtors appointed by the Florida Association of Realtors. The group promotes cordial relations between Realtors and attorneys and presents educational seminars.

One attorney is sought to serve a three-year term beginning Jan. 1 on the 20-member Florida Rural Legal Services board of directors.

The organization’s mission is to empower low-income people, groups and communities by providing access to justice through legal advice, representation and advocacy.

The deadline to apply for either board seat is Nov. 15.

Also, the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting applications for criminal conflict and civil regional counsel for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th districts. The appointments by Gov. Ron DeSantis are to fill vacancies that will be created by the conclusion of the four-year terms of the current regional counsels.

A description of the duties and details of the position of Regional Counsel for the Offices of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel can be found at section 27.511, Florida Statutes.

Visit or call (850) 561-5757 for details about the vacancies and application instructions.

Legal notes

Kailyn Allen joined the real estate practice at Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart in Jacksonville.

Allen was valedictorian of the 2019 class at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and also was managing editor of the Florida Law Review.

Corey Portnoy, an associate attorney in Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin’s casualty department, was appointed to the board of directors of the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville.

He graduated from Florida State University College of Law, where he received the Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award. Portnoy was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2015.

Valerie Davis joined the state Department of Children and Families/Children’s Legal Services in Jacksonville as a senior attorney.

A graduate of Florida Coastal School of Law, she was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2015.