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American Heritage School crowned state champs in Florida Bar High School Appellate Brief Writing & Moot Court Competition

News in Photos
2023-2024 Florida Bar High School Appellate Brief Writing & Moot Court Competition

Matthew Rodriquez and Jacob Zeng, bottom right from the left, of American Heritage School in Broward County captured the crown at the Florida Bar High School Appellate Brief Writing & Moot Court Competition. Rodriquez was also named best oralist. Also pictured in front of the Supreme Court in Tallahassee are runners up Zoe Priolo and Ethan Williams from Bell Creek Academy in Hillsborough County.   

American Heritage School in Broward County emerged victorious at the 2023-2024 Florida Bar High School Appellate Brief Writing & Moot Court Competition held in Tallahassee on April 2-3.

Organized by The Florida Bar Law Related Education Committee and Appellate Practice Section, the competition provided a comprehensive platform for students to delve into the intricacies of appellate law. This two-part program not only offered an opportunity to grasp the appellate process but also provided a true-to-life court experience for participants.

Students wrote briefs on a fictitious case involving student discipline and evidence, which were graded by practicing attorneys and six teams were invited to present oral arguments before appellate judges of the First District Court of Appeal on April 2. The climax of the competition unfolded with a statewide final showdown between the top two teams at the Florida Supreme Court the following day.

The State Champion of this year’s Appellate Brief Writing and Moot Court Competition was the team of Matthew Rodriquez and Jacob Zeng. Led by attorneys Nikki Laurie and Laura Burkhalter, the team from American Heritage School – Broward, was judged the best in Florida by all seven Florida Supreme Court justices in the final round. Rodriquez was also recognized as the Best Oralist in the finals.

Also recognized were competition finalists Ethan Williams and Zoe Priolo from Bell Creek Academy.

Awards were also presented at the conclusion of the first day appellate rounds. Competing in the preliminary rounds were two student teams from the following high schools:

  • American Heritage School – Broward County
  • Beachside High School – St. Johns County
  • Bell Creek Academy – Hillsborough County
  • Gainesville High School – Alachua County
  • iPrep Academy – Miami-Dade County
  • William R. Boone High School – Orange County

The Best Brief award was presented to Rodriquez and Zeng from American Heritage School – Broward. Christopher Li from Beachside High School received the award for the Best Oralist for the preliminary round.

The Florida High School Appellate Brief Writing and Moot Court Competition program is designed to provide students the opportunity to learn critical thinking skills, legal reasoning, analysis, and professionalism, in addition to the structure and function of the courts and legal process. Visit The Florida Bar Moot Court page for more information.

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