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Smithhisler ’20 named Top Advocate in moot court competition

Duane Bonifer
Hadley Smithhisler ’20 was named Top Advocate in the 2017 Moot Court. She is joined by finals judges, from left, Monmouth Dean of the Faculty David Timmerman, Justice David Vancil, chief judge of Illinois’ Ninth Judicial Circuit, and Monmouth Political Science Professor Andre Audette.
MONMOUTH, Ill. – For Monmouth College student Hadley Smithhisler ’20, participating in the College’s seventh-annual Moot Court competition helped confirm her career aspirations.

Smithhisler took part in the academic event for the first time this year, and she was named Top Advocate. That should give the sophomore a boost of confidence as she works toward attending law school after she graduates from Monmouth.

Smithhisler was one of 13 Monmouth students who participated in the College’s seventh-annual Moot Court competition. The preliminary round was held Oct. 7. Four students advanced to the final round, held Oct. 9 in the Morgan Room of Poling Hall.

The students argued the case: Is it unconstitutional to require voters to show a photo identification card in order to be able to vote?

Smithhisler, who argued that a voter ID law is unconstitutional, said “what fascinated me the most was how you can see things from both sides,”

“It was cool to see how you could attack this issue from all sides,” said Smithhisler, who is from Valley City, N.D.

Smithhisler said she “learned a lot” from Saturday’s preliminary round.

“After the first round on Saturday, I learned a lot of the things I had done wrong, the things I had missed, and the things that I hadn’t considered,” she said. “So it was a cool to be able to address that in the final round and improve my argument.

Participating in Moot Court has also helped Mackenzi Lafferty ’19 decide to pursue a career in law.

Lafferty was named Top Advocate in 2015, and she also advanced to the final round in 2016.

“It’s definitely made me more confident in my goal to attend law school, and it’s made me even more excited to be an attorney,” said Lafferty, who is from Canton, Ill. “I am actually very interested in voter ID laws, so I thought it was very fascinating. It’s also one of the topics I’m considering for my senior research next year, so I was really excited to study it.”

Joe Doner ’21 also competed in Moot Court for the first time. Doner, who is from Arlington Heights, Ill., also wants to be a lawyer after he graduates from Monmouth.

Doner said that although he didn’t agree with the position he argued in the finals -- in favor the voter ID law -- he learned a lot by participating in the process.

“I had a really hard time arguing for the side I didn’t believe in, but it was interesting to learn more about the thought process behind implementing voter ID laws,” he said. “Before this I thought, ‘There really isn’t a good reason.’ But there are a couple decent reasons for implementing laws like this. There are probably just ways of doing it rather than how it was suggested in this case.”

For finalist Samuil Georgiev, participating in Moot Court was a way to learn more about the U.S. legal system.

Georgiev is studying this fall at Monmouth before heading back to Pernik, Bulgaria.

“I’ve always been interested in law, and I’ve been considering the option of applying to law school after I graduate back in Bulgaria. So this was an opportunity for me to learn more about law and see how it actually works,” he said.

Georgiev said that participating in Moot Court also made a great semester at Monmouth even better.

“I’m having a great experience here, and this competition was part of the greatness of this experience,” he said.

The preliminary round’s judges were: Dan Cotter ’88, Kate Fitzsimmons Cross ’08, Brad Nahrstadt ’89, and Debra Nahrstadt.

The judges for the final round were: Andre Audette, Monmouth assistant professor political science; David Timmerman, dean of the Monmouth faculty; and Justice David Vancil, chief judge of Illinois’ Ninth Judicial Circuit.