On Tuesday, the president of the Atlanta City Council and Morehouse graduate of 1991, Caesar Mitchell, honored the Morehouse Moot Court team with a city proclamation. Dr. John Wilson and members of the team attended the ceremony.
The team recently became the first HBCU to win the national championship at the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s (ACMA) national tournament. Members of the team successfully unseated Patrick Henry College which had been the defending champion for the last seven years.
Professor Winfield Murray, a graduate of 1998 and full-time government attorney, founded the team just two years ago. He is the first African American coach to win the nationals.
During last year’s competition, the Morehouse team was the first and only HBCU to ever compete. They also became the number five team in the nation.
Approximately 400 colleges and universities participate in the ACMA tournament, these include Duke University, University of Virginia, and Texas A&M. Unlike the other schools which have dozens of two-member teams, Morehouse has two teams.
Also dissimilar, the Morehouse team lacks adequate funding.
Other teams are funded by their institutions and are able to participate in multiple scrimmages and invitationals. The Morehouse team only receives funding for one competition.
“If we had blown one tire or needed one extra tank of gas, we would have been screwed,” said Murray.
Murray has been able to cover some costs on his own and through donations from his friends and colleagues but he said the team is put at a severe disadvantage.
“Other schools are able to compete in smaller events before regionals, but we only get one shot,” said Murray.
There are 13 students who are interested in competing next year but the organization is struggling to maintain funding for its four current members – Rodje Malcolm, Emanuel Waddell,
Cassius Price, and Darius Atkins.
Next year, the national championship will be held in California – a 30 hour drive (without stops) if the college does not increase funding to include air fare.
Despite the lack of sufficient support from the school, Malcolm said he enjoys the program because of Murray’s leadership and the opportunity to couple advocacy work with academic research.
Murray said, “In order for Morehouse to remain a viable institution and not a relic, it must offer innovative courses and activities, like Moot Court, which attract new students as well as opportunities.
Malcolm described Moot Court as a simulation of Supreme Court argumentation. While delivering their case, participants are interrupted for questioning by actual judges and attorneys in addition to members of the opposing team. Students read hundreds of pages of case law over several months in order to prepare.
Campus News Editor