MSU Law Moot Court Team Emerges National Champions in D.C.

John-Weston Franke and Abby Treadwell
The MSU Law Moot Court team of 3Ls, Abby Treadwell and John-Weston Franke, swept the Burton D. Wechsler National First Amendment Moot Court Competition, held at American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., November 3-5, 2023. For the second year in a row, MSU Law took home the title at this competition, emerging as the champion in a field of thirty competing law schools. Sweetening the win was earning the best brief award as well as placing as the #1 team after the preliminary rounds, earning a top seed in the elimination round bracket.

The 2023 problem involved challenging questions about the constitutionality of a hypothetical statute. This statute criminalized counseling others to obtain an abortion in violation of the law, which banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, and preventing a student group from posting an announcement in an open newsletter about an upcoming meeting aimed at challenging the law.

“Coaching this team was an incredibly rewarding experience. I’m incredibly proud of the work this team put into the competition, and the improvement I saw over the course of this experience,” said Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Appellate Moot Court Program Jennifer Copland. “Their astute and persuasive arguments coupled with their professional demeanor impressed not only the judges but the entire audience.”

Professor Copland noted that the final round judges were swayed by the team’s ability to be responsive to the judges’ questions and the opposing counsel’s arguments, while staying true to their individual presentation styles. The final round judges included the Honorable Reggie B. Walton from the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, the Honorable Timothy B. Dyk from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and the Honorable Loren L. AliKhan of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

“I had such a great experience working alongside John-Weston and Professor Copland to secure this win,” said Ms. Treadwell. “I continue to be so grateful for MSU’s Moot Court program, which has provided me with such incredible opportunities to travel and connect with law students, attorneys, and judges from across the country. Wechsler was the perfect conclusion to my law school moot court career, and I look forward to seeing the program’s continued success this year and beyond!”

When asked about his experience, Mr. Franke said, “ It was a true pleasure to compete with Abby at this competition. Getting to argue in front of real judges was not only a great opportunity to hone our skills, but it was also a ton of fun! I’m thrilled that we were able to bring this trophy home to MSU once again!”

When she isn’t winning Moot Court competitions, Ms. Treadwell is busy as Notes and Comments Editor for the MSU International Law Review, a member of the Board of Advocates, and student clinician for the First Amendment Clinic. Ms. Treadwell was also a quarterfinalist and an oralist award winner at the Spring 2022 Gibbons Criminal Procedure moot court competition, held at Seton Hall Law School in Newark, New Jersey.

Her teammate, and co-champion, Mr. Franke is active in the Geoffrey Fieger Trial Practice Institute and earned the Moot Court Jurisprudence Achievement Award for Advocacy, Criminal Law, Evidence, and Advanced Legal Research. He is also the 2022 Eve August Memorial Moot Court Scholarship awardee, awarded annually to the top student in the fall Moot Court Competition class.