Four students from the University of Colorado Law School got to show off their appellate potential last week at the annual Rothgerber Moot Court Competition. The event was the final internal round for the competition, and students argued Dragontown University v. Foster at the “14th Circuit Court of Appeals.” The event was sponsored by Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell.
The Rothgerber competition was started at CU Law in 1951 and honors former Denver attorney and Judge Ira Rothgerber. The Moot Court Competition is a national event, and New York University’s School of Law puts out a case book each year and comes up with the issues. They tailor the problems to align with issues that are before the U.S. Supreme Court but haven’t totally been precluded by an actual previous ruling. Colorado Supreme Court Justices Melissa Hart and William Hood and Justice Harris Hartz of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals served as judges for the case.
This year’s case is centered on two main issues: free speech under the First Amendment and due process under the 14th Amendment. Dr. Peter Foster was a medical professor at Dragontown University, which is a public school. He claimed he was fired as retaliation for a blog post he wrote on his personal website concerning the treatment of epilepsy, that included some unorthodox medical views on treatment. Some practitioners took Dr. Foster’s advice and a patient died as a result. The university became caught up in the controversy and fired Dr. Foster. His claim was dismissed at the trial court and that decision was over-turned by the circuit court.
“There are a lot of free speech issues in society right now, and we thought it would be a fun way to see these arguments tackled,” intraschool chair for Barrister’s Council of Moot Court Division Josiah Beamish said.