Close contest determines winner of Sam Masten Moot Court Tourney at USD School of Law

VERMILLION, S.D. -- First-year law student Kasey Wassenaar of Jackson, Minn., edged first-year law student Sarah Zinter of Pierre, S.D., to win the championship round of The University of South Dakota School of Law’s annual Sam Masten Intramural Moot Court Competition on Wednesday, March 24.

Judged by justices of the Supreme Court of South Dakota, Wassenaar came out on top in a very close contest, according to the Hon. David Gilbertson, chief justice of the Supreme Court. “We discussed at length whether there was a tie,” he admitted after the five justices heard the two finalists’ oral arguments in the courtroom at the School of Law.

The oral arguments based on those briefs is the Law School’s annual “March Madness,” which took nine days to complete and involved 56 volunteer judges and 77 first-year students. Competition judges included moot court board members, professors, deans, practicing attorneys and judges as well as members of the Supreme Court judging the final round.

“The competitors and all of those working in this process of holding the competition demonstrate the high caliber of our students and the extraordinary education they receive, which also demonstrates the excellent quality of our professors,” said Dean Barry R. Vickrey. “The Law School continues to be especially grateful to the Supreme Court for the time and expertise invested in helping future lawyers.”

R.D. Hurd Best Brief Awards were also presented at the conclusion of the tournament to Kari Mouw of Hull, Iowa, for “Best Appellant’s Brief” and for “Best Overall Brief.” The award for “Best Appellee’s Brief” was presented to Andrea Rosenberg of North Tonawanda, N.Y.

Following the championship round, the Sioux Falls law firm of Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith hosted a reception for the participants where James Wiederrich of the firm presented Vickrey a check for $5,000 to the Law School Foundation in support of the USD Law School’s Moot Court program.    

The Sam Masten Moot Court Tournament is named for a long-time South Dakota trial lawyer who practiced in the Canton area, was a leader of many organizations in the legal profession, and served as an adjunct professor at the School of Law. Masten served as president of the State Bar of South Dakota, was instrumental in the creation of the South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association, and was the State Delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates for a number of years.