About the First Year Ames Competition

The First Year Ames Moot Court serves as the academic focus of first-year students’ second semester of Legal Research and Writing (LRW).  All first-year J.D. students participate:  the work of briefing and arguing a case is an essential part of a Harvard legal education and helps students develop critical skills in argument and logic.

In the First Year Ames Moot Court, students work in pairs to compose briefs on the merits of a hypothetical appellate case.  Cases are assigned by students’ Legal Research and Writing instructors, the Climenko Fellows.  The Fellows, together with members of the Board of Student Advisers who serve as teaching assistants, teach students how to research and write their briefs and help them prepare for oral arguments.

Students’ briefs are graded by their Climenko Fellows.  Students do not receive formal grades for their oral argument performance, but they do receive feedback from their judging panel (consisting of a faculty member, an attorney, and an upper-level student).

2020 First-Year Ames Case Descriptions

United States v. Hark presents several appellate issues stemming from Archibald “Archie” Hark’s conviction for distributing more than 100 grams of heroin. After the jury delivered its verdict at trial, Hark moved for acquittal on the basis that federal drug enforcement officials, including Agent Paul Lopez, had induced him to deal the drugs and that, therefore, he was entrapped as a matter of law. Three days after trial, Hark moved separately for a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence—several affidavits casting Agent Lopez’s testimony into doubt. The district court denied both motions. On appeal, Hark hopes to persuade the Ninth Circuit that the district court erred in rejecting his motion for acquittal for entrapment as a matter of law and in refusing to grant him a new trial. The Government must persuade the court that the lower court was correct in both its rulings.

Sanchez v. MacNamara Veterinary Specialists stems from Defendant-Appellant June Sanchez’s employment as a veterinarian for Plaintiff-Appellee MacNamara Veterinarian Specialists. After eight years of employment, Sanchez resigned and opened her own veterinary practice in Syracuse. MacNamara filed a contract suit, alleging that Sanchez’s practice violated her employment contract, which included a restrictive covenant that limited Sanchez’s ability to practice as a veterinarian in New York after leaving MacNamara. Sanchez responded that the covenant was unenforceable, and brought a counterclaim alleging that the hospital had retaliated against her for reporting a fellow veterinarian’s dangerous conduct, thus constructively discharging her and violating the employment contract. The trial court granted MacNamara’s motion for summary judgment, and the New York Court of Appeals granted review over two issues: whether the noncompete portion of the employment contract is enforceable, and whether Sanchez adequately pleaded a cause of action for breach of her employment contract.

Macy v. State presents issues surrounding a criminal trial. Jerry Macy was the owner of Macy’s Motors, an automobile dealership in Moorhead, Minnesota. In June of 2019, police arrested Macy and a loan specialist with the Minnesota Small Business Administration; Macy was charged with one count of attempted bribery for allegedly trying to pay the specialist in exchange for special consideration for his loan application. Macy was found guilty and he moved for a judgment of acquittal on the grounds of insufficient evidence and, in the alternative, for a hearing to determine whether or not the jury’s verdict was tainted by racial bias on the part of a juror. The trial court granted the second motion and held a hearing, after which Macy moved for a new trial due to juror misconduct. The trial court denied Macy’s motion for judgment of acquittal and his motion for a new trial in a joint order. Macy appealed his conviction, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals granted review over two two separate questions: whether the evidence presented at trial was sufficient as a matter of law to support a guilty verdict, and whether Macy’s right to a fair trial was violated by a racially biased juror.