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St. Croix Educational Complex Wins Moot Court Competition

May 4, 2007 — “First and second place will be taking the seaplane back to St. Croix today,” Judge Audrey Thomas said, just before announcing the winner of the 13th Annual Appellate Moot Court Competition.
It was an excited team from St. Croix Educational Complex that took home the honors Friday after finishing two days of competition at the Alexander A. Farrelly Justice Center. Second place went to St. Croix’s St. Joseph High School.
Each student was judged on oral advocacy, knowledge of the law, organization of their argument, responses to the judges’ inquires, creativity of the argument and courtroom demeanor.
Two lawyers from the V.I. Bar Association were assigned to each team. A representative from each school was designated “captain” to assist students in preparing and to serve as a liaison between the Court and the students.
Akeel St. Jean from St. Croix Educational Complex was presented with the Best Oralist Award, named in honor of the founder of the V.I. Moot Court competition, former Judge Soraye Diase-Coffelt.
The St. Croix Educational Complex team, coached by attorneys Randy Holzapple and Richard Schrader, included students St. Jean, Vania Maysonet, Ann Cancel and alternate, Aziza Rivera.
Cancel, who finished third in the oralist competition, had one of the funniest lines of the day, when being peppered by the three-judge panel, said, “Please, Your Honor, you are wasting my time.”
Each team of three was allowed 15 minutes to present arguments broken down into five-minute segments.
Each presenter was repeatedly stopped and queried on points of law by the three-judge panel comprised of judges Thomas, Darryl Dean Donohue and Francis D’Eramo.
All teams argued a hypothetical case that centered on the constitutionality of the use of race as a factor in public high school admissions plans, which allow high school students to select the school of their choice.
Holzapple, an attorney for 15 years in the states and now a teacher at St. Croix Education Complex, said of the team, “These are really incredible young people. They really put in the work. They met with me every morning and night for the last three or four weeks, sometimes working until 10 at night."
After two days in court, the presentation of awards came after lunch at Victor’s New Hideout Restaurant, where Thomas said to the students, “You haven’t even been to law school, but you certainly acted like lawyers. You raised the bar. I was truly impressed by the caliber of your arguments.”
Each team was presented with a certificate of participation, with the top four teams receiving awards and cash scholarships to the schools of their choice.
In addition to the first-place team from St. Croix Educational Complex, whose members each received $1,000, the other teams were:
2nd place ($1,000 apiece) St. Joseph High School
3rd place ($500 apiece) All Saints Cathedral School
4th place ($500 apiece) Charlotte Amalie High School
5th place Sts. Peter and Paul School
Other competing schools included Antilles School, Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, the Good Hope School and St. Croix Seventh-Day Adventist School.
This year's competition was sponsored by the V.I. Bar Association and V.I. Superior Court.
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