Borsilli and Yatsko emerge victorious in Dickinson Law’s intra-school moot court competition
Third-year law students Hanna Borsilli and Jordan Yatsko won Dickinson Law’s intra-school moot court competition after defeating the Law School’s ABA team comprised of second-year law students Bob Heary, Dominik Maida and Becca Marsnik during the final round in the Apfelbaum Family Courtroom and Auditorium, Lewis Katz Hall.
Hosted by Dickinson Law’s Moot Court Board, the annual competition is open to second-year and third-year law students, and provides junior advocates the practice, training and resources needed to succeed in their upcoming spring competitions. One weekend prior to the competition, they attend “Moot Camp”—an annual training that helps them prepare for oral argument.
"Winning the championship has made me proud of the person and student I've become in the last two years at this law school-from going through mental gymnastics to get my nerves in check enough to volunteer in class to being the person and advocate I want to be," said Yatsko. "That meant being willing to subject myself on behalf of the rights of another to judges firing off questions purposefully aimed at my weakest spots in front of an audience hearing every word. It makes me proud, and it makes me grateful to this law school and this profession for giving me every opportunity to become that person."
“Law students who are selected to compete advance their writing, problem-solving, advocacy and public speaking skills under the guidance of full-time faculty and experienced lawyers,” said Tristan Chase O’Savio, a third-year law student at Dickinson Law and president of the Moot Court Board who organized this year’s competition. “They also have the opportunity to connect with Law School alumni—both lawyers and judges—who support this event.”
From creating a prompt from scratch to provide the advocates with a case to argue to coordinating awards and securing guest judges for the scoring, knock-out, and final rounds, O’Savio began preparing for the competition six months ago and was pleased with the amount of interest from law school students wishing to participate. He shared that the “annual event sparks excitement throughout the Law School community, bringing together all campus organizations as a single unit.”
Borsilli and Yatsko argued a Constitutional question involving the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. They felt confident going into the final round.
“Jordan and I presented our argument twice in earlier rounds and received positive feedback,” said Borsilli. “Still, I was anxious to argue before a federal judge. We practiced our arguments with each other and brainstormed responses to questions we thought would be asked.”
Borsilli said she was thrilled to have the opportunity to argue before both highly skilled practitioners and actual judges. “I want to be a trial attorney, so the competition allowed me to practice what I hope to do in my legal career.”
As the Law School’s top appellate advocates, Borsilli and Yatsko were awarded the Christian R. Burne ’17 Award. Marsnik received the Francesca M. Kester ‘17 Most Valuable Oralist Award. Both awards were established by this year’s Moot Court Board in recognition of the excellence in advocacy and leadership that Burne and Kester demonstrated during their time as law students at Dickinson Law.
“I am incredibly humbled to win this award,” said Marsnik. “I am astounded at the talent and work ethic of my fellow students. Anyone who participated could have won this award, and to be the one chosen for it means a lot to me. I watched Francesca advocate during her 3L year, and it was an honor to have her—someone so passionate yet humble—watch me advocate in the final round.”
Marsnik shared that the ability to watch others advocate was extremely beneficial. “Everyone has their own style, and it was an incredible learning experience to see how others use their style to effectively advocate.”
Alumni judges for this year’s competition included Judge John E. Jones III '80, United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; Judge Jessica Brewbaker '00, Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas; Judge Thomas Placey '90, Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas; Heidi Freese '01, federal public defender for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; and Lori Ulrich '89, Office of the Federal Public Defender, Middle District of Pennsylvania.
View photos from this year’s event.
Third-year Dickinson Law students Jordan Yatsko (left) and Hanna Borsilli (right) receive the Christian R. Burne Award from Tristan Chase O’Savio, president of the Law School’s Moot Court Board, as champions of the annual intra-school moot court competition on Friday, October 13 in the Apfelbaum Family Courtroom and Auditorium, Lewis Katz Hall, Carlisle.