By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Law School hosted its 28th annual Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Competition earlier this month. The competition, which focuses on the students’ skill in appellate advocacy, drew 36 teams from various law schools nationwide.
The judging panels included federal and state jurists, BLS faculty and BLS alumna. Sitting on the final judging panel were U.S. Senior Appellate Judge for the Second Circuit Chester J. Straub, former U.S. Chief Appellate Judge for the D.C. Circuit Patricia M. Wald, and U.S. Chief Judge for the Northern District of Ohio Solomon Oliver Jr.
“It has been an incredible experience putting everything together,” Alexandra Olsen, BLS student and the competition’s coordinator, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “From working with the team of writers who conceived of and developed the problem to talking to competitors from all over the country, and to interacting with judges and practitioners ... [this] will be one of the most memorable things about law school for me.”
The competition is named in honor of the late Jerome Prince, renowned evidence scholar, teacher and author of “Prince on Evidence,” who served as dean of Brooklyn Law School from 1953 to 1971. In order to honor Prince’s memory and the role he played within the BLS community, the competition remains a collaborative effort among students, faculty, and personnel.
“Some of our professors advise the writing team, others grade briefs, and still more preside over oral arguments,” Olsen noted. “The staff also get involved, and they are instrumental in so many ways, large and small.”
BLS Dean Nick Allard commended the “exceptional effort” of the BLS team “for putting on a program that demonstrates the excellence and vitality of [the] law school.”
Leading the team of BLS personnel was Professor Robert M. Pitler, faculty advisor to BLS’s Moot Court Honor Society. Having led the team for many years, it was only fitting that Pitler receive the Dean Jerome Prince Lifetime Achievement Award, or "Lifetime Princey.”
“Professor Pitler's many years of commitment to the competition, to the students, and to the Moot Court Honor Society made him worthy of this honor,” Olsen said. Pitler is the fifth recipient of the award in the competition's 28-year history.
The 28-year history of the Prince competition is a reason for some to apply to BLS. “To give you an idea of just how celebrated the Dean Jerome Prince Evidence Competition is, I first heard about it before I had even decided to enroll at Brooklyn Law School,” said Matthew DeSaro, a second-year student at BLS.
But brining students to BLS is not the only draw of the Prince competition. BLS makes sure that all participants get a taste of what the borough of Brooklyn has to offer. The Prince competition “creates an environment that perfectly blends the academic character of our law school with the distinctive personality of our borough ... a unique opportunity to showcase our school and the neighborhood we call home,” DeSaro proudly noted.
“For example, upon registering on the first day of the event, every competing team received a welcome folder. In it were not only materials pertaining to the competition itself -- a schedule and the like -- but also pamphlets and fliers displaying some of the fun and exciting attractions that the Downtown Brooklyn area has to offer. From walking over the Brooklyn Bridge to taking in the sights of Lower Manhattan from the Promenade to having a casual brunch on Smith Street, competitors and their coaches were treated to sights and fare not available outside of Brooklyn,” he said.
BLS is already gearing up for next year’s competition. “We are currently in the process of selecting which student will run the 29th annual competition,” said Olsen, whose run as coordinator has come to an end.
One student possibly in the running for student coordinator is DeSaro. Noting how “impressive” and “memorable” the competition was, DeSaro asserts that he “most certainly wish[es] to be involved with [it] in the future.”
The teams from University of California at Hastings College of Law and Duquesne University School of Law placed first and second in the 28th annual Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Competition. Other winners included Evan Howze of South Texas College of Law (Best Oralist in the Preliminary Rounds) and Christopher Petroni of UC Hastings (Best Oralist in the Final Round). Duquesne University was the winner of the best brief award, and UC Hastings for second best brief.