VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota School of Law hosted the Sam Masten Moot Court Competition, crowning first-year law student Zach Schmidt of Watertown, South Dakota, champion.
“The competitors were impressive,” said Drew Hurd, a third-year law student and vice president of the USD Law Moot Court Board. “The first-year law students were extremely prepared given the challenges of this year’s tournament.”
The Sam Masten Moot Court Competition is an annual tradition named for a long-time, outstanding South Dakota trial lawyer who practiced in the Canton area. This year’s tournament was moved online reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament’s final round, generally judged by faculty and justices from the South Dakota Supreme Court, was instead determined by third-year members of the Moot Court Board. Schmidt defeated fellow first-year law student Anne Weyer to win the competition. The best appellant and appellee brief awards went to Cameron McCue and Anne Weyer respectively.
“The first-year students missed out on some of the intangible things like meeting lawyers from across the state or being judged by the South Dakota Supreme Court, but they were still able to have the appellate advocacy experience,” said Hurd. “That came through in the virtual format. I also heard from competitors that they found the tournament to be a useful distraction and helpful way to get back into the flow of their problem.”
Masten, the namesake of the tournament, 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.