Earlier this month, more than 100 college students from across the country gathered in Orlando to compete in the South Atlantic Regional Undergraduate Moot Court Qualifying Tournament hosted by UCF’s Department of Legal Studies.

The Dec. 2-3 tournament gave students a chance to present oral arguments in favor of their position in a hypothetical or “moot” case in front of volunteer judges. Among the judges was the dean of Florida International University’s law school and a local circuit court judge.

The tournament was one of just eight regional tournaments of its kind in the nation. It also was a resounding success, said department Chair Jim Beckman.

“Several members of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association [the governing body for the tournaments] said it was one of the best-run tournaments this year,” Beckman shared. “That’s especially satisfying to hear since it was our first time hosting the tournament.”

The ACMC named UCF a permanent host of the annual South Atlantic regional tournament this summer.

Contributing to the success of this year’s tournament was the overall quality of the teams in the competition. The U.S. Air Force Academy’s team included a recently selected Rhodes Scholar and a recently selected Fulbright Scholar. Another team, from Patrick Henry College, comprised students who won first and third place as orators in the 2010 national competition.

Also competing were three teams of UCF students who did “very well” in their first moot court tournament, Beckman reported.

One UCF team, Yisell Rodriquez and Lizette Santiago, came in 24th out of 50 teams on day one and narrowly lost in the first elimination round on day two.

Another team, Siiri Raniero and Cameron Marsh, placed 26th out of 50 teams on the first day. “What makes their ranking so impressive is that English is Siiri’s second language. Their hard work and training over several months enabled them to place higher than almost half of the other teams in a very competitive field,” Beckman said proudly.

The final round of the tournament pitted Patrick Henry’s team of stellar orators against a team from the University of Louisville. The volunteer judges, most of whom are Central Florida attorneys, ultimately selected the Patrick Henry team of Blake Meadows and Bridget Degnan as the winner of the overall competition (watch the final round and presentation of top awards at http://ce.ucf.edu/conference-services/mootcourt/).

The top 20 percent of teams from each regional competition go on to compete in the ACMC’s national competition next month.

“The quality of the teams — and the time and expertise offered by our own faculty and the Orlando legal community — made the tournament simply superb,” Beckman said.