UH Law School Wins Top National Award for Environmental Moot Court Team

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Denise Antolini, (808) 956-6238
Professor of Law
Della Au Belatti, (808) 944-4081
Environmental Moot Court Team Captain
Posted: Apr 8, 2003

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa‘s William S. Richardson School of Law‘s National Environmental Law Moot court team captured the top legal brief award at the February 2003 national competition, held at Pace Law School in White Plains, New York.

The Moot Court team consisted of three law student members-Della Au Belatti, Stanton Oishi, and Summer Kupau. Coached by Assistant Professor Denise Antolini, co-director of the Law School‘s Environmental Law Program, the team won the David Sive "Best Overall Brief Award," which is given for the top legal brief submitted by all the teams in the competition.

Over 60 law schools competed in this year‘s event, including Ivy League law schools such as Harvard University and Yale University and major public law schools like University of California, Berkeley and University of Michigan. Each team was required to submit a written legal brief on a mock legal problem in early December, which was then blind graded by a pool of independent attorneys. In late February, the teams competed in rounds of oral arguments against the other law schools. Over 30 Honolulu attorneys and judges assisted the team‘s preparation this year by serving as practice round judges in order to "toughen the students up" for the New York competition, according to Antolini.

The UH law students wrote their legal brief on behalf of the United States government in a hypothetical case involving cutting edge national water pollution issues. In the mock case, the U.S. was prosecuting a private company‘s gold mining operation that was dumping cyanide-laden wastewater into a dry streambed. The students grappled with complex legal and technical issues under the federal Clean Water Act, as well as constitutional dimensions of federal enforcement.

Team Captain Della Au Belatti noted, "Our team worked extremely hard for six months to prepare for the national competition. The moot court experience brought our classroom learning to life. We carefully dissected and vigorously debated very difficult water pollution law issues.

We learned how to write a persuasive brief and how to argue effectively before panels of judges. This experience has been one of the best learning opportunities available at the School of Law. "

Antolini added, "Our law school has consistently captured the top awards in the national competition. In 1999, the UH team won first place in the oral part of the competition. This year we won the other half of the Oscar B, the best-written brief award. We‘re very proud of our students who demonstrate year after year that their legal skills rank among the best in the country."

In the last 13 years in which UH has participated in the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, the UH teams have advanced to the quarterfinal or semi-final rounds nine times. Last year‘s team came in second for the top brief award and advanced to the semi-final round of the competition.