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Moot Court Bar competition best oralist receives Mark Blickle Scholarship

David Leggett, a second-year law student and native of Charleston, SC, was named “Best Oralist” during the University of South Carolina School of Law’s annual J. Woodrow Lewis Moot Court Competition, held at the South Carolina Supreme Court. As part of his win, he was awarded the Mark Blickle Scholarship Award.

"Throughout the competition, I have been impressed by the prowess demonstrated by my fellow competitors. I was surprised and honored by the Court’s decision," said Leggett.

Leggett and his co-counsel, third-year law student Rachel Lee served, as counsel for the petitioner in the case. Their opposing counsel was second-year students Matthew Mandeville and Richie Gergel. Students argued the appeal of Hidalgo v. State of Arizona, which challenged a convicted murderer’s death penalty sentence.

Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty, Justices John W. Kittredge, Kaye G. Hearn, John Cannon Few, and George C. James, Jr. heard the case argued by the final four advocates. The justices named counsel for the respondent, Mandeville and Gergel, as winners of the competition.

At the conclusion of the competition, Moot Court Bar faculty advisor Brook B. Andrews thanked the judges and the advocates.

“This is one of the only states or law schools that I know of that gives students the chance to argue in front of all five state supreme court justices,” said Andrews.

For Leggett, the experience is why he joined the Moot Court Bar in the first place.

"Oral advocacy, especially at the appellate level, requires a lawyer to read, write, and speak well. I have long enjoyed each of those tasks and saw in Moot Court the chance to be a part of an organization that would continue cultivating those skills," said Leggett. "Perhaps I am foolhardy in my optimism, but arguing in front of the South Carolina Supreme Court is one of the most daunting tasks I can imagine. Now that I have had such an experience, I feel much more confident about any situation I might find myself in while a practicing attorney."

The law class of 1981 was also in attendance and was recognized for funding the Mark Blickle Scholarship. The Mark Blickle Scholarship Award was created by friends and family in memory of Mark Blickle, a member of the Class of 1981. This award is presented annually to the student who presents the best oral argument at the J. Woodrow Lewis Moot Court Competition.

The J. Woodrow Lewis Moot Court Competition is an annual appellate advocacy competition held in memory of the The Honorable J. Woodrow Lewis, former chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

The competition is open to all second- and third-year students at the University of South Carolina School of Law. Competitors prepare an appellate brief and compete in two rounds of oral arguments in teams of two. The top two teams advance to the final round, argued before justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court.