Barry McNamara  |   Published November 03, 2022

Davies Takes Two Titles

Senior political science major named Top Advocate of Monmouth College Moot Court, also wins for legal brief writing.

MOOT COURT FINALS: Pictured from left are alumni judges Thomas Siegel, Morgan Hubbard Lewis and S... MOOT COURT FINALS: Pictured from left are alumni judges Thomas Siegel, Morgan Hubbard Lewis and Stephanie Hilton, finalists Jacob Rathgeb, Owen Davies, MacKenzie Holmes and Aidan Scharf, and event organizers Marnie Steach Dugan and Andre Audette.MONMOUTH, Ill. – In his third year of Monmouth College Moot Court, Owen Davies successfully completed his climb up the competition ladder.

The political science major from Plainfield, Illinois, earned the top advocate honor at this year’s competition, which was held Wednesday evening in the Morgan Room in Poling Hall. He was a preliminary-round participant his first year and one of four finalists his junior year.

The other three finalists were MacKenzie Holmes ’23 of Clive, Iowa; Jacob Rathgeb ’23 of Petersburg, Illinois; and Aidan Scharf ’25 of Manchester, Missouri.

Additionally, Davies won the third annual legal brief writing competition. Second place went to Gabriela Peterson ’23 of Southwick, Massachusetts, and Xavier Cooper ’24 of Springfield, Illinois, took third.

Check out more pictures from 2022 Moot Court competition.

The judges for the final round were Warren County State’s Attorney Thomas Siegel ’99; McDonough County Public Defender Stephanie Hilton ’07; and Morgan Hubbard Lewis ’13, who works in program compliance and oversight for Warren County Public Transportation. Lewis was also the winner of the Top Advocate honor at the College’s first moot court competition.

Based on a 2014 Supreme Court case, the case for this year’s competition involved a challenge to a state constitutional amendment that banned college affirmative action programs. It questioned whether the amendment violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by working against the interest of racial and ethnic minorities and improperly changing the political process for making college admissions decisions.


Unique opportunity

Political science professor Andre Audette said the moot court competition – which most students don’t see until their first year in law school – offers a wealth of benefits for Monmouth students.

“They develop great skills through this – communication skills and writing skills – and it’s a great networking opportunity,” he said. “It also looks great on a résumé. We’ve had a number of participants go on to great success in law school and in other careers where they’ve taken their moot court experience with them.”

“They develop great skills through this – communication skills and writing skills – and it’s a great networking opportunity. It also looks great on a résumé.” Andre Audette


In all, 12 students participated in the 12th installment of the unique undergraduate opportunity. After a long deliberation at last Saturday’s preliminary round, judges Dan Cotter ’88, Kate Cross ’08 and Brad Nahrstadt ’88 and his wife, Debra Nahrstadt, selected the four finalists, who were each given a petitioner or respondent role.

OWEN DAVIES: Senior political science major speaks in front of the judges during Wednesday's ... OWEN DAVIES: Senior political science major speaks in front of the judges during Wednesday's moot court finals.Davies was pleased to draw the same position he’d taken in the preliminary round.

“I prepared for this case thoroughly over the past week and a half or so,” he said. “I was able to tweak it over the week to prepare and to ensure that I had covered all of my bases.”

He estimated that he spent at least 20 hours reading the case, drafting a brief and preparing his oral argument.


‘Thinking on your feet’

And still, said Hilton, that type of preparation is put to the test in a moot court competition.

“It’s a good opportunity to experience rapid-fire public speaking,” she said. “When you’re doing speech or you’re giving speeches, you don’t have that situation where someone’s questioning you or interrupting you and throwing you off your game. You have a game plan – A to B to C to D. In moot court, you get rearranged. You go from A to E, and then back to C and then maybe over to D. So it’s a really good exercise in critical thinking, flexibility in your thinking, and really thinking on your feet.”

“It’s a good opportunity to experience rapid-fire public speaking. When you’re doing speech or you’re giving speeches … you have a game plan – A to B to C to D. In moot court, you get rearranged.” Stephanie Hilton 


Coming at the experience as both a past participant and a judge for the competition, Lewis said that pressure to perform is a good test for the students.

“It gives everybody a chance to step out of their comfort zone,” she said. “Most people think of a lawyer as a very one track-minded, one goal-setting thing, and it’s not. The students in this competition learn how to write a brief and read briefs and case law, and that’s going to teach them to fact-check in the future. It’s going to show them great stage presence that allows them to have eye contact, which is a great source to have in any field you go into. It really makes you be passionate and work hard.”

“Many of my peers in law school were pre-law. … It forced them into a narrower view than the one that I had coming from a true liberal arts college, where it’s more of a jack-of-all-trades, so you can wrap your head around a wide variety of topics.” Thomas Siegel


Siegel said the competition is a component of the liberal arts education that Monmouth provides – an education that gave him a strong foundation, even if law school was not his original choice.

“I did find that a liberal arts education, in particular, had amazing value,” said Siegel, who focused his undergraduate studies on philosophy and English. “Many of my peers in law school were pre-law. … It forced them into a narrower view than the one that I had coming from a true liberal arts college, where it’s more of a jack-of-all-trades, so you can wrap your head around a wide variety of topics.”

At the moment, this year’s champion is not planning to follow Siegel or Hilton’s career path.

“While advocating for things is not out of the question in my future, law school is not my current hope,” said Davies. “However, I will use skills that I have developed with moot court in my future career and throughout my Ph.D. opportunities in political science.”

Listen Up …

A wrapup of the 12th annual Moot Court competition featured on the “Monmouth Conversations” podcast.

 

Watch the Finals …

Back to News & Events

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