Howes and runner-up Logan Johnson argued in front of Justice Mark E. Salter, Dean Neil Fulton, Professor Emeritus Frank Pommersheim, Justice Scott P. Myren and Chief Justice Steven R. Jensen.

The Sam Masten Competition serves as a significant milestone in students' legal careers – as for many, it is their first introduction to courtroom experience. The competition provides law students with the opportunity to gain experience in conducting appellate oral arguments and further develop their advocacy skills outside of the classroom environment.

“Not only is it a wonderful experience as a law student, but also it has also been an honor for me to see the name ‘Sam Masten’ again," said Howes. "My grandmother, Margaret McBay, worked for Sam Masten for 20 years in Canton, South Dakota.

"This experience of practicing appellate advocacy is invaluable because it requires that you dig deeply into a case, think it through creatively and substantively, and really advocate for a client," Howes continued. "When it’s not a real client, it can be difficult. But practicing these skills will give me the confidence in the future to advocate for a client when these things that we talk, write and practice really matter to a person or to an entity. So, I appreciate the opportunity to prepare in this very real way to be an advocate."

Sam Masten, namesake of the Moot Court tournament, was an outstanding South Dakota trial lawyer who served the Canton, South Dakota, area. He was a leader of many legal organizations and served as adjunct professor of the USD School of Law.

Masten served as the president of the state bar of South Dakota and was the state delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates for many years. He was elected to the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1964, to the International Society of Barristers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers in 1965 and to the Board of Trial Advocates in 1975.

He was a longtime member of the American Trial Lawyers Association, serving on the Board of Governors from 1968-1970. Masten was instrumental in the creation of the South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association. 

Masten received many honors, including the American Judicature Society’s Herbert Lincoln Harley Award in 1974 for his work on reorganization of the court system in South Dakota. This resulted in the present Unified Judicial System and the creation of the Judicial Qualification Commission, which he initially chaired. 

The tournament was proposed by several of Masten's colleagues and friends during a pheasant hunting trip in Gregory, South Dakota. To keep the art of oral advocacy alive, an endowment was established in Masten's name to sponsor the moot court tournament.

The Sam Masten Moot Court Tournament began in 1980, the year that Sam Masten passed. Law students and faculty alike continue his legacy through the production of the tournament each year.

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