VERMILLION, S.D. -- For the second consecutive year, students from The University of South Dakota School of Law advanced to the elite eight of the National Native American Law Student Association (NNALSA) Moot Court competition in Boulder, Colo.
J.R. LaPlante, a third-year student in the Law School, and Alex Hagen, a second-year USD School of Law student, won the Best Brief Award and qualified as quarterfinalists at the 48-team competition. LaPlante, from Eagle Butte, S.D., and Hagen of Brandon, S.D., advanced following the oral arguments portion of the tournament, which was Feb. 27-28 at the University of Colorado. In addition to LaPlante and Hagen, the USD School of Law was also represented at the 17th annual National NALSA competition by students Brooke Swier of Emory, S.D., and McLean Thompson of Pierre, S.D., winners at USD's regional NALSA Moot Court Tournament in October.
To prepare for the regional and national competitions, USD students reviewed more than 35 Indian law cases. Aside from maintaining regular class attendance, the law students spent several months honing their written brief and oral argument skills. They also received teaching and coaching from actively-engaged professors who are experts in this area of law thanks to the Law School's American Indian Law program. They include Frank Pommersheim, a nationally-known expert and author who serves on a half-dozen tribal courts across the United States; Patrice Kunesh, of Standing Rock Sioux, Hunkpapa Lakota descent, director of USD's Institute of American Indian Studies; and John Glover, of Salish descent, associate dean of the USD School of Law and director of American Indian Studies at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D. For more information about the American Indian Law program at the USD School of Law, please visit this Web site: www.usd.edu/law/AI_Law.cfm or call (605) 677-5443.