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Mount St. Mary's Moot Court Team at the 2012 Western Regionals (left to right): Giovanna Victorino, Emily Carrera, Viridiana Aceves, Claudia Garcia, Kathleen O'Hollaren and, seated, Nilab Nawabi.

Moot Court awards for Athenian student-counsels

Some of the best courtroom speakers in the West come from Mount Saint Mary’s University, so say the judges in the Western Regionals of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association.

Giovanna Victorino ’13 and Claudia Garcia ’14 each took home “best oral advocate” awards as two of the competition’s best speakers. Victorino also landed a spot in the overall top 10, finishing No. 8 in the 68-person field that included two-person teams from 10 colleges and universities such as Brigham Young University, the University of Idaho and Fresno State. Garcia earned a spot in the top 20, at No. 16 overall.

“I was incredibly excited and surprised because it was unexpected and the competition was absolutely nerve-wracking,” Victorino said. “But I credit my success to teammates who helped every step of the way, to friends who provided me with encouragement and advice, as well as to Dr. Helen Boutrous who was an excellent professor and guide.”

Mount St. Mary’s sent a trio of two-person teams to the regionals hosted earlier this month at California State University Long Beach. Victorino’s co-counsel was Emily Carrera ’13; Garcia partnered with Kathleen O’Hollaren ’13. And the third Athenian team of Nilab Nawabi ’13 and Viridiana Aceves ’15 also advanced to the final day of competition.

Nawabi was able to present her arguments despite suffering a knee injury in a fall the morning the competition began. After a visit to a nearby emergency room, Nawabi returned and competed in a wheelchair.

“I could not be more proud of this year’s Moot Court team,” said Boutrous, chair of the Mount’s History & Political Science department and Moot Court adviser. “They worked incredibly hard, competed with honor and supported each other throughout the season. They are talented and tenacious, generous and gracious. It was my honor to serve as their coach.”

The season-ending Western Regionals offered the Mount’s students a final opportunity to argue before judges in a simulated appellate court setting. All participants had to memorize 10 Supreme Court cases, and were required to argue both sides of their argument during the competition.

“I gained a lot of self-empowerment and self-awareness, and experience that really pertains to any aspect in life,” Victorino said. “But what meant the most to me was the bonding and the friendships that came out of being on a small team. It was such an honor to have had the opportunity to participate in Moot Court, and it is an experience that I will never forget.”

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