The Ames Competition is one of the most prestigious competitions for appellate brief writing and advocacy in the country. The students participating in the Semi-Final Round started the competition in fall of this school year, and rose to the final four spots through their strong research abilities and excellent written and oral advocacy.

Semi-Final Round oral arguments will be held in the Ames Courtroom at 7:00pm on March 5th and 6th. Teams competing in the Semi-Final Round are below, as well as the briefs submitted for the Semi-Final Round.



Spring 2024 Semi-Final Round

March 5th, 7:00pm – Triston Jax v. Stanley M. Wildwood, in his individual capacity, and Town of Sea Pines

In January of 2021, Officer Wildwood, a police officer with the town of Sea Pines, attempted to interrogate Triston Jax on suspicion of a nearby burglary. Jax complied, although he expressed some frustration, and the officer responded by pepper spraying, assaulting, and arresting Jax. Jax was subsequently charged with larceny, possession of cocaine, and resisting arrest. Although there may have been probable cause to arrest Jax for larceny and drug possession, body cam footage revealed that the resisting arrest charge was largely trumped up by the officer. Jax was held on bail for 37 days of pretrial detainment before prosecutors reviewed the officer’s body cam footage and subsequently dismissed all charges.

Jax sued both Officer Wildwood (for malicious prosecution, Count 1), and the town of Sea Pines (for negligent training of its officers, Count 2). The Court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the malicious prosecution claim because there was probable cause to support at least one of the crimes for which Jax was charged. The Court allowed the claim against the town to proceed. In response, Jax voluntarily dismissed Count 2 and appealed the dismissal of Count 1. Defendants moved to dismiss the appeal under the theory that the appellate court could not hear an appeal without a final ruling.

There are two questions on appeal. The first asks if a plaintiff may appeal a partially dismissed set of claims if they voluntarily dismiss all other claims without prejudice. The second question concerns the malicious prosecution charge, and whether a 42 USC 1983 claim must be dismissed where the officer in question had probable cause for a separate crime.


Presiding Judges 

The Honorable Judge Maria Kahn, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

The Honorable Judge Richard Gergel, U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina

The Honorable Judge Susan Paradise Baxter, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania


Appellant: The Charles Ogletree Jr. Memorial Team

  • Kiran Hampton 
  • Denny Lee 
  • Jacob Libby
  • Rebekah Ninan 
  • Varun Sharma (oralist)
  • Jacob Schwartz (oralist)

Appellees: The Honorable Constance Baker Motley Memorial Team

  • Elle Buellesbach 
  • Vaishalee Chaudhary (oralist)
  • Andrew Cogut 
  • Alex Fredman 
  • Sophia Kwende (oralist)
  • Alexandra (“Mac”) Taylor


Appellant Opening Brief

Appellees Brief

Appellant Reply Brief



March 6th,  7:00pm – United States of America v. Germany Vance

On July 11, 2022, two officers from the Ames City Police Department conducted a routine traffic stop in a high-crime neighborhood when they spotted Defendant Vance making a turn without signaling. During the stop, the officers conducted a protective sweep of the vehicle and discovered eleven stolen firearms that were taken from a nearby gun shop. Vance was subsequently charged with violating federal law prohibiting the theft of firearms from a gun shop. Additionally, Vance’s Presentence Investigation Report recommended a four-level enhancement to his offense based on United States Sentencing Guidelines and based on the theory that the stolen firearms were themselves used in connection with the burglary (even though he came to the gun shop unarmed). 

Vance contested both the legality of the protective sweep of his car and the enhancement of his sentence. The United States District Court for the District of Ames denied Vance’s motion to suppress, finding no fault with the protective sweep, and also held in favor of the enhancement deferring to commentary from the United States Sentencing Commission as controlling. Vance appeals claiming that the District Court committed two errors that require reversal. 

There are two questions on appeal. The first concerns the motion to suppress evidence based on the protective sweep of the vehicle, and asks (a) whether this Court should review the evidence in a suppression-hearing record “in the light most favorable to the government” and (b) whether the district court erred in denying the motion to suppress. The second concerns whether the district court erred in sentencing the Defendant based on the deference it afforded to the United States Sentencing Commission’s commentary on the sentencing guidelines.


Presiding Judges 

The Honorable Judge Jeffrey Sutton, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

The Honorable Justice Melissa Hart, Colorado Supreme Court

The Honorable Judge Myong J. Joun, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts


Appellant: The Honorable Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Memorial Team 

  • Arvind Ashok (oralist)
  • Edward “Ned” Bless 
  • Andrew Hayes
  • Emily Malpass  (oralist)
  • Richard Nehrboss
  • Daniel Wasserman

Appellee: The Honorable Secretary Madeleine Albright Memorial Team

  • Joel Erickson 
  • Wesley Wai-Tong Hardin 
  • Charlotte Laurence (oralist)
  • Sarah McClellan 
  • Cristina Rivera Morrison 
  • Sergey Smirnov (oralist)


Appellant Opening Brief

Appellee Brief

Appellant Reply Brief


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