Yale moot court to take on case against U.S. attorney general

Long before the Supreme Court justices render their decision on a case involving a former U.S. attorney general, students at the Law School will have settled the matter in the final round of the Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals competition, being held Monday, Dec. 6, in the Law School’s Levinson Auditorium, 127 Wall St.

Doors will open at 4 p.m. for the “trial,” which will begin at 4:30 p.m. A reception in the Alumni Reading Room will follow the competition. The event is free and open to the campus community.

The Morris Tyler Moot Court competition takes place each semester at the Law School, culminating in the Harlan Fiske Stone Prize Finals in the fall and the Thurman Arnold Prize Finals in the spring. All second- and third-year law students are eligible to participate.

Four students will compete in this fall’s Harlan Fiske Stone Prize Finals. They will argue the case Ashcroft v. Al-Kidd, which comes before the Supreme Court this term. Three judges — Dennis G. Jacobs, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; Rosemary Barkett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and Merrick B. Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — will hear the case.

At issue is whether former Attorney General John Ashcroft is immune from a lawsuit filed by American citizen Abdullah Al-Kidd, who was arrested and detained under the federal material witness statute in the aftermath of Sept. 11. The suit alleges Ashcroft used the statute as a pretext to hold and investigate suspected terrorists, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The case happens to be one that Yale Law School’s 9-11 Clinic has been working on with the ACLU since it was filed in 2005. Students Matt Vogel, Alice Hwang, Betsy Cooper, Diala Shamas and Sirine Shebaya are currently drafting the merits brief for Al-Kidd with clinical professor Mike Wishnie and clinical visiting lecturer Lee Gelernt, who will argue the case for Al-Kidd before the Supreme Court.

Moot Court co-chair Tanya Abrams says, “We are looking forward to an exciting final round. We expect to hear challenging questions from a great panel of federal appellate judges regarding the important issue raised by this case — the scope of government accountability for alleged violations of constitutional rights.”

Barrett Anderson and Nick Walter will argue for the petitioner, John Ashcroft. Eugene Sokoloff and Wendy Zupac will represent the respondent, Abdullah Al-Kidd.

To see the competitors’ briefs, click here.

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