About the First Year Ames Competition
The First Year Ames Moot Court serves as the academic focus of first-year students’ second semester of Legal Research and Writing (LRW). All first-year J.D. students participate: the work of briefing and arguing a case is an essential part of a Harvard legal education and helps students develop critical skills in argument and logic.
In the First Year Ames Moot Court, students work in pairs to compose briefs on the merits of a hypothetical appellate case. Cases are assigned by students’ Legal Research and Writing instructors, the Climenko Fellows. The Fellows, together with members of the Board of Student Advisers who serve as teaching assistants, teach students how to research and write their briefs and help them prepare for oral arguments.
Students’ briefs are graded by their Climenko Fellows. Students do not receive formal grades for their oral argument performance, but they do receive feedback from their judging panel (consisting of a faculty member, an attorney, and an upper-level student).
2012 First-Year Ames Case Descriptions:
Beckett v. Wingate Rifle Co. presents a question of first impression for the Nevada Supreme Court, which must decide whether a gun manufacturer may be held liable for the wrongful deaths of those shot with its high-powered weapon. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant, but the plaintiffs, on appeal, have pressed their theories of negligence in the marketing and distribution of Wingate’s weapon. Wingate hopes to persuade the Court that it should adopt the majority rule against imposing special common law duties on gun manufacturers. Appellants, meanwhile, will need to convince the Court that summary judgment was inappropriate, and that the principles of tort law and public policy are on their side.
United States v. Hark presents several appellate issues stemming from Archibald “Archie” Hark’s conviction for distributing more than 100 grams of heroin. After the jury delivered its verdict at trial, Hark moved for acquittal on the basis that federal drug enforcement officials, including Agent Paul Lopez, had induced him to deal the drugs and that, therefore, he was entrapped as a matter of law. Three days after trial, Hark motioned separately for a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence, including an classmate’s affidavit recounting a conversation between Agent Lopez and his colleagues in law enforcement. The district court issued a single order denying Defendant’s motion for acquittal, but granting Defendant’s motion for a new trial. On appeal, Hark hopes to persuade the Ninth Circuit that the district court erred in rejecting his motion for acquittal for entrapment as a matter of law but was correct in granting the new trial. The Government must persuade the court that the court was correct to reject the entrapment motion but wrong to order the new trial.
In Weston v. Good TV, Inc., Sally Weston, a 13-year-old girl, cut off two of her fingers while attempting to slaughter a chicken as a contestant on Good TV’s newest reality show, Kid Nation. Weston then attempted to disaffirm the liability waiver she and her mother were required to sign for Weston to participate in the show, and sued Good TV for damages. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant. On appeal, Weston hopes to convince the California Court of Appeals that she successfully disaffirmed the liability waiver, or that the waiver was invalid as a matter of public policy. She also hopes to persuade the Court that she was not an employee of Good TV and thus that Good TV’s liability is not limited by California’s workers’ compensation regime. Good TV, by contrast, must persuade the Court that summary judgment on all issues should be upheld.