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Ken Turchi
IU Maurer School of Law

Last modified: Friday, February 25, 2011

Distinguished judges to preside at IU Maurer School of Law Moot Court finals

Feb. 25, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A panel of distinguished jurists, including a judge from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the chief judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals, will visit the Indiana University Maurer School of Law today at 7 p.m. to hear arguments on a timely topic: the balance of constitutional rights versus law enforcement needs in the struggle to regulate medical marijuana and control cross-border violence.

The arguments will be part of the final round of the law school's annual Sherman Minton Moot Court Competition. This year, more than 130 students participated in the tournament-style competition, in which they acted as appellate lawyers representing clients in a realistic setting.

Judging the final round Friday are Judge Michael Kanne of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Chief Judge Margret G. Robb of the Indiana Court of Appeals; Judge Edward J. Najam of the Indiana Court of Appeals, Judge Viola J. Taliaferro of the Monroe Circuit Court; and Professor Ryan W. Scott of the IU Maurer School of Law.

This year's case problem, United States v. Speer, presents two timely constitutional issues within the context of two equally current public debates on social and security issues: disputes over federal versus state regulation of medical marijuana, and rising concerns over the cross-border violence in the southwestern United States that has spilled over from Mexican drug-cartel strife.

The first legal issue, involving the exigent circumstances doctrine under the Fourth Amendment, examines whether police can contrive emergencies that justify entry into a suspect's home without a search warrant. The second issue is whether admitting scientific evaluations, such as autopsy reports, into evidence without giving a defendant the opportunity to cross-examine the report's author violates the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause.

Professor Seth Lahn, director of the law school's moot court program, noted that while the competition always tries to address current legal issues, this year's issues are unusually topical because both of them are before the United States Supreme Court in its current term.

The exigent circumstances issue is now under review in the Supreme Court in Kentucky v. King, in which the high court heard oral arguments on Jan. 12. The Confrontation Clause issue is before the Supreme Court, in the context of blood-alcohol tests, in Bullcoming v. New Mexico, which is scheduled for oral argument on March 11.

"The final round of the Sherman Minton Moot Court Competition marks the culmination of nearly a year-long effort in which students have refined their oral and written advocacy skills," said third-year student Lance Lindeen, chief justice of the competition. "Participating in the competition gives students the opportunity to exhibit many of the skills they have learned while in law school."

This evening's event, in room 123 of the IU Maurer School of Law, is open to the public and will be followed by a reception on the third floor. The competition is named after Indiana's only appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sherman M. Minton. A 1915 graduate of the Maurer School of Law, Minton served on the court from 1949 to 1955 and took part in a number of historic decisions, including Brown v. Board of Education.