College Columns May 2018 - Page 12


Fourth Circuit Regional Moot Court Competition

by Michael L. Bernstein, Arnold & Porter

On February 19, the Fourth Circuit held its first regional Duberstein moot court competition, generously hosted by Fourth Circuit Fellow Sam Gerdano, Executive Director of the American Bankruptcy Institute, at ABI's beautiful offices, overlooking the

Potomac River, in Alexandria Virginia.

Sam approached the Fourth Circuit about hosting a regional; he said that the quality of the national competition was greatly enhanced by giving student advocates this sort of practice opportunity. Then Fourth Circuit Regent Richard Wasserman and Fourth Circuit Education chair Craig Goldblatt enthusiastically agreed.

The effort to organize this first Fourth Circuit competition was led by Denise Neary and Beth Wiggins, both Fourth Circuit fellows, of the Federal Judicial Center, working with the education committee (chair Craig Goldblatt of Wilmer Hale, David Kuney of Whiteford Taylor & Preston and Michael Bernstein of Arnold & Porter). The success of this program was largely due to their efforts, as well as to enormously valuable materials and advice we received from Trish Redmond, an Eleventh Circuit fellow, and Rick Mikels, a First Circuit fellow, each of whom have led very successful regional moot court competitions in their own circuits. Their help, Sam’s guidance, and the great materials prepared for the national moot, made all the difference as we conducted the first of what we hope to be a regular circuit event.

Teams from Campbell Law School (Monique Kreisman and Ellen Williams), Georgetown University Law Center (William Fletcher and Ariel Reed), and The George Washington University School of Law (James Mcintyre and Omid Rahnama) participated.

The Campbell team was coached by Pam McAfee, Career Law Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina and Margaret Westbrook of K&L Gates. The Georgetown team was coached by Fourth Circuit fellow David Kuney of Whiteford Taylor & Preston, and the George Washington team was coached by Fourth Circuit Fellows Michael St. Patrick Baxter of Covington & Burling and Craig Goldblatt of Wilmer Hale.

We were fortunate to have as judges for the competition three Fourth Circuit fellows: The Honorable Michelle Harner, of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, The Honorable Patrick Flatley of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, and Doug Foley, of McGuire Woods.

The subjects argued at the competition were (1) whether a debtor could sell property free and clear of a lease, under Sections 363(b) and (f), without regard to the tenant's rights under Section 365(h), and (2) whether a settlement with a creditors committee could be approved, if the result was to pay a junior class without fully paying creditors in a more senior class, without running afoul of the Supreme Court's Jevic decision.

The quality of the competition was extraordinarily high.