Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition

What is it?

The Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the premiere moot court competition in the world. In 2013 there were over 2,000 students, from over 500 schools in over 80 countries around the world competing in the competition. In the U.S., regional rounds of the competition are held in February of each year, with winning teams going on to compete in the international round of the competition in Washington D.C. in April, against teams from all over the world. The international round, which runs a full week, also over-laps with the American Society of International Law annual meeting in D.C., so students get to rub shoulders with the giants of international law. Judges from the International Court of Justice (the ICJ) are among the judges who preside over the final round. There is simply no more prestigious moot court competition in the world, and arguably no other moot competition that develops advocacy skills as well as the Jessup.

The Washburn Team and Selection Process

The Washburn team comprises five upper year students – four who will write the Memorials (briefs in international law) and make oral arguments, and an “of-counsel” who assists the team in preparation and at the counsel table, and is often a returning member of the team. In addition, a 1L is selected each year to observe and travel with the team to learn about the process for the following year.

The selection process begins early in the fall semester, with tryouts that involve a five minute oral argument on the basis of a past year’s written argument. There are no prerequisites for participation, though students who have taken or are taking Public International Law and other international law related courses, will likely have an advantage. The bulk of the research and writing is done in the Fall semester, with the briefs ("Memorials") to be submitted early in January. The team practices oral advocacy in January and February, and travels to the regional round of the competition in February. There is at least 1 credit available for participation in the Jessup. More information will be made available through announcements about the selection process at the beginning of the semester.

2022-2023 Team

  • Dillon Schreckler and Kiley Deain ("the Kingdom of Agovale")(applicants)
  • Peter Harrison and Zach Green ("the state of Ragnell")(respondants)
  • Andrew Doan (1L representative)
  • Adjunct Professor Jared Maag (coach)

The problem involved issues arising from the use of force against armed insurgents, potential war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, violations of international environmental law, and the lawfulness of coercive economic sanctions - all issues torn from recent headlines.

The Washburn team finished with an impressive record of 3 wins and 1 loss, beating Arizona, Oklahoma, and KU

Photograph: Washburn Law's 2023 Jessup Moot Court team.

Pictured (above, left to right): Professor Jared Maag (coach), Dillon Schreckler, Peter Harrison, Zach Green, Kiley Deain, and Andrew Doan.

2021-2022 - Washburn Law did not Compete in the Jessup

The 2021-2022 problem involved issues relating to human rights on the Internet, data theft, the secession of part of a nation's territory, and foreign election interference.

2020-2021 Team

  • Christina J. Brunton
  • Brett Combs
  • Tyler R. Laudick
  • Desiree K. Smith
  • Deisy "Pam" Saenz (of counsel)
  • Jennifer D. Collier (1L representative)

The problem this year "concerns a global pandemic, and the obligations and responses of States with respect to the outbreak. It will also involve questions of the jurisdiction of the Court, a desperate claim for political asylum by an alleged rogue scientist, and State responsibility for a suspicious aircraft explosion."

Photograph: Washburn Law's 2021 Jessup Moot Court team.

Pictured (above, left to right): Desiree "Desi" K. Smith, Deisy "Pam" Saenz, Professor Craig Martin (faculty advisor), Tyler R. Laudick, Christina J. Brunton, Brett Combs.

Photograph: Washburn Law's 2021 Jessup Moot Court team during first round of competition.

2019-2020 Team

The 2019-20 Jessup problem involved the complex legal issues arising from violent incursions by armed criminal cartels, the construction of a wall of fully-autonomous weapons system along a common border, the imposition of unilateral tariffs, the arrest and detention of a foreign minister for war crimes, and the overlapping jurisdiction of international tribunals. Washburn Law was represented by Pam Saenz and Ivan Moya (applicants), Tyler Laudick and Desi Smith (respondents), Lillian Chin (of-counsel to both sides), and Brett Combs (1L representative).

Photograph: Washburn Law's 2020 Jessup Moot Court team.

Pictured (left to right): Brett Combs, Ivan Moya, Deisy "Pam" Saenz, Lillian A. Chin, Tyler R. Laudick, Desiree "Desi" K. Smith, Professor Craig Martin (faculty advisor).

2018-2019 Team

  • Lillian A. Chin
  • Brian I. Kong
  • Ian M. Sharma-Crawford
  • Cody A. Smith
  • Marvin Tador
  • Tyler R. Laudick (1L representative)

Jared Maag, '95, is the faculty advisor.

Photograph: Washburn Law's 2019 Jessup Moot Court team.

Pictured (left to right): Jared Maag (faculty advisor), Ian M. Sharma-Crawford, Brian I. Kong, Lillian Chin, Cody A. Smith, Tyler R. Laudick, Marvin Tador.

2017-2018 Team

The 2017-2018 Jessup problem involved the validity of interstate arbitral awards, the capture of a ship at sea, the breach of nuclear disarmament obligations, and the conduct of naval warfare.

Photograph: Washburn Law's 2018 Jessup Moot Court team.

Pictured (left to right): Professor Craig Martin (faculty advisor), Barbara "Katy" Garner (of counsel), Allison N. Carr, Dennis "Dean" Kirk II, Mary "Katie" Baylie, Caitlyn M. Berry, and Lillian Chin (1L representative).

2016-2017 Team

The 2016-2017 Jessup problem dealt with the right to water in trans-boundary aquifers, the protection of cultural heritage property, responsibility for causing refugee flows, and human rights violations. The Washburn team competed in the Rocky Mountain Super Regional competition at the University of Denver, in a pool of 16 teams. Matthew Shoger and Allison Carr represented the applicants, Courtney Manly and Katy Garner represented the respondents, and Caitlyn Berry acted as "of counsel" for both sides. Dean Kirk was the 1L "observer." The team went 3-1 in the four rounds of the preliminary phase of the competition, losing the one round in a very close match against the University of Utah. Washburn advanced to the Quarterfinals in the knock-out phase of the competition, where it again met the University of Utah, losing a tightly matched contest.

Photograph: Washburn Law's 2017 Jessup Moot Court team.

Pictured (left to right): Courtney E. Manly, Allison N. Carr, Matthew L. Shoger, Dennis "Dean" Kirk II (1L participant), Caitlyn Berry, Barbara "Katy" Garner, Professor Craig Martin (faculty advisor).

2015-2016 Team

The 2015-2016 Jessup problem, The Case Concerning the Frost Files, involved issues such as terrorism, state expropriation, espionage, cyber-operations, mass surveillance, and administrative detention. The Washburn Jessup International Moot Court team competed in the Rocky Mountain Regional competition. Jorge de Hoyos and Maureen Hannen represented the applicants, the state of Amestonia, Sam Clopton and James Crux represented the respondents, the Republic of Riesland, and Nicole Southall acted as "of counsel" for both sides. Matt Conklin was the 1L "observer." The team performed well while competing against four teams that eventually advanced to the quarterfinals. Two of those teams moved on to the finals, with Stanford University Law School, which the Washburn team met in the third round, winning the competition for the second straight year. Stanford and the University of Utah will go on to the international competition in D.C. in March 2016.

Photograph: Washburn Law's 2016 Jessup Moot Court team.

Pictured (left to right): James Crux, Samuel Clopton, Jorge De Hoyos, Nicole Southall, Maureen Hannen, Matthew Conklin (1L participant), Professor Craig Martin (faculty advisor).

2014-2015 Team

The 2014-2015 Jessup problem, The Case Concerning the Secession and Annexation of East Agnostica (409 KB PDF), was inspired by the Crimean crisis of 2014, with claims of unlawful interference in the internal affairs of another state through the encouragement of secessionist movements, claims of self-determination, and allegations of subsequent annexation of territory, along with additional claims arising from a treaty dispute over mineral resources. The Washburn team lost two close split decisions, and thus did not advance to the knock-out round or on to the international round in Washington D.C. Skip Jordan won an individual prize for 10th top oralist, and the team won 8th best Memorial.

Photograph: Washburn Law's 2015 Jessup Moot Court team.

Pictured (left to right): Professor Craig Martin (faculty advisor), James Crux (1L participant), Andrea Plunkett, Skip Jordan, Nicole Southall, Jordan Clothier, and David Cohen.

Past Competitions and Teams

2013-2014 Team

The 2013-2014 Jessup problem, the Case Concerning the Malachi Gap, involved disputes over maritime resources under the law of the sea, liability for environmental harm to fish stocks, the rights of salvage and possession of sunken treasure, and claims of piracy and disputes over jurisdiction for crimes at sea. The Washburn team performed well, but unfortunately lost to the ultimate winner of the Rocky Mountain Super-Regional Round in the very first round. Ending with a record of 2-2 (defeating UMKC and Oklahoma City, but losing to Loyola New Orleans and Gonzaga, Washburn finished in the top half of the competition, but failed to advance to the knock-out round. Brett Shanks won a top oralist award, finishing 9th out of the 88 advocates competing.

2013-2014 Washburn Law Jessup International Moot Court Team.

Pictured (left to right): Professor Craig Martin (faculty advisor), Brett Shanks, Norah Avellan, Megan Williams (of counsel), Whitney Mills, Nicole Southall (1L rep), and Michael Fessinger.

The 2012-2013 Team

In 2012-2013 the Jessup problem, the Case Concerning the Alfurnan Migrants, involved timely questions flowing from an island nation disappearing beneath the ocean as a result of climate change, triggering issues of statehood, the rights of environmental refugees, human rights violations of migrants, and the seizure of assets of states in crisis. The Washburn team turned in another historic performance finishing 3rd overall in the round-robin phase with a 4-0 record (defeating Louisiana State, William Mitchell, Iowa State, and Michigan State, and making it to the quarter-finals in the Rocky Mountain Super-Regional Competition in Denver (losing to Montana), narrowly missing the trip to DC for the international round. Two of the team won top oralist awards, with with J.D. Hatcher winning 1st place , and Josh Conway taking 7th place.

2012-2013 Washburn Law Jessup International Moot Court Team.

Pictured (left to right): J.D. Hatcher, Kaitlin Marsh-Blake, Megan Williams, Professor Craig Martin,
Marissa Frederick, Norah Avellan, Joshua Conway.

The 2011-2012 Team

The 2011-2012 Jessup, the Case concerning the Mai-Tocao Temple, involved issues relating to the legitimacy of governments coming to power via a coup, humanitarian intervention and the use of armed force, sovereign immunity, and the obligations to preserve and protect heritage property. The Washburn team turned in an historic performance, finishing first overall among twenty-three teams in the round-robin phase of the Rocky Mountain Super-Regional Competition in Denver (winning against Hameline Univ. Univ. of Iowa, Univ. of Minnesota, and Washington Univ. in St. Louis), and advancing to the semi-final round where it lost in a split-decision against Michigan State. The team won a 5th place award for its Memorial (written brief), and J.D. Hatcher placed 7th in the Top Ten Oralist awards.

2011-2012 Washburn Law Jessup International Moot Court Team.

Pictured (left to right): John Westerhaus, Kait Marsh, Megan Williams,
Shannon Rush, J.D. Hatcher, and Bryan Cox.