Howard Payne University’s Moot Court team successfully defended its position as one of the best in the state by winning the recent tournament at Southern Methodist University. Seniors Rebeca Puente of Waskom and Isaac Sommers of Boerne were the tournament champions, defeating a team from the University of North Texas. Three of HPU’s five teams were among the top 10 at the tournament.

Additionally, Sommers and Jordan Hahn, freshman from Burnet, were named the conference’s second and ninth top speakers, respectively.

Moot Court is a competition during which students participate in the preparation and arguing of cases in front of judges, designed to simulate argument before the United States Supreme Court. The case and allowed resources are selected beforehand and students must prepare arguments for both sides (petitioner and respondent). Moot Court involves appellate cases as opposed to those at the trial level, which are often called “mock trials.” Judges are usually law professors, attorneys from the community and even members of the judiciary. Students are judged on their ability to incorporate case law into their arguments, their oral and written arguments and their presentation style.

Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of government, coaches the team. Dr. Matthew McNiece, chair and professor of history and government and director of HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy, expressed his appreciation for Kelley’s guidance.

“She not only coaches but consistently mentors these tremendous young scholars,” he said. “While their natural talent would undoubtedly lead them to success in just about any environment, I am deeply convinced that it is their time at HPU that will prepare them for excellent use of their gifts in the service of God and their communities.”