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Columbia Students Place High in Native American Law Moot Court Competition

Columbia Law School students were among the top finishers at theNational Native American Law Students Association moot court competition held Feb. 25-26 at the Law School.

A Law School team, Jenny Patten ’13 and Jason Hipp ’13, finished third in the best team category, which was won by a team from the University of Hawaii—William S. Richardson School of Law. The University of Washington was second.

In other categories, Amy Conners ’13 was named best oralist for the competition, while Elizabeth Moulton ’12 and Inbar Gal ’13, finished third in the best brief category. Caitlin Giaimo ’13 and Andrea McChristian ’13 advance to the round of 16.

Complete results for the moot court can be seen at

The competition attracted 162 students and coaches, representing 66 teams from some 30 schools nationwide.

“It was the best turnout we ever had for the national competition,” said Kyle Kolb ’11, director of this year’s competition and third-year representative of the Law School’s Native American Law Students Association chapter, which was founded in 1989 to foster academic support for Native American students and others interested in American Indian Legal issues.

Columbia to Host National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition

When it comes to laws governing Native Americans, there are often many more questions than answers. Tribal, state, and federal government regulations often get entangled when trying to sort out who has jurisdiction over what.

Out of such complexity comes opportunity, in the form of a tricky question that is the basis of this year’s National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition, which will be held Feb. 25-26 at Columbia Law School.

Some 28 schools, from as far away as Oregon and Hawaii, will field 66 teams of two persons to compete. Nine of the teams will be from the Law School.

“It’s the best turnout we’ve ever had for the national competition,” said Kyle Kolb ’11, director of this year’s Competition and third-year representative of the Law School’s Native American Law Students Association, which was founded in 1989 to foster academic support for Native American students and others interested in American Indian Legal issues.

Last year’s competition, in South Dakota, had 46 teams, Kolb said, adding that holding the moot court in New York likely attracted more schools.

The problem, or fact pattern, that forms the basis for the briefs and oral arguments, concerns the extent of a tribal court’s jurisdiction over a member of another tribe who was arrested following a fight at the tribe’s casino. After being issued several civil citations, he is then subject to civil forfeiture, after drugs were found in his truck. The defendant contends the tribe has no authority to seize his property, and has taken his case to the federal courts.

“Tribes would have criminal jurisdiction [over the petitioner], but it’s not clear they would have civil jurisdiction,” Kolb said.

With one exception, all of the Columbia teams are made up of first-year students satisfying their foundation year moot court requirement. In contrast, some schools in the competition have Native American law programs, and send second- and third-year students. Kolb said, however, that has not proven to be a handicap. A Law School team won the competition in 2009, while Law School teams took first and second in the best brief category at last year’s competition.

The Law School teams get a little extra help by having as their faculty advisor, Douglas Endreson, a Lecturer-in-Law who teaches a Federal Indian Law course. Endreson, whose practice specializes in the representation of Indian and Alaskan tribes, is also the legal writing instructor for the team members.

“We definitely make a concerted effort to teach them as much as we can within the rules of the competition,” Kolb said.


Congratulations to the NALSA Moot Court Team

Please join us in congratulating the NALSA Moot Court team.  Two teams advanced to the elimination round at the National Competition, held this year at the University of South Dakota, and two teams were awarded First Place Best Brief and Second Place Best Brief.  The teams wish to give a special thanks to Professor Endreson, Professor Genty, and all the other professors and school administrators who helped make this achievement possible.

First Place Best Brief:
Novika Ishar and Alexander Hogan

Second Place Best Brief:
Caitlin Smith and Courtney Smith

Quarter Finals:
Jenna Krueger and Frank Holleman

Sweet Sixteen:
Novika Ishar and Alexander Hogan



New York, March 2, 2009 — Columbia Law School won the National Native American Law Students Association (NNALSA) Moot Court Competition, held this past weekend in Boulder, Colorado. This victory adds to a growing list of moot court triumphs students have landed this season.

Bringing home the gold were David Saunders ’09 and Kerry Carroll ’11, who placed first in the overall competition. Ted Alexander ’11 and Matthew Birkhold ’11 took third place overall and Farhang Heydari ’11 and Scott Thurman ’11 won third best brief.

This year’s problem addressed a challenge to a public university policy granting tuition waivers to certain American Indian students, on the grounds that the policy violates a state ban on racial preferences in state-funded programs. The challenge also argues that the policy violates the Equal Protection Clause by excluding federally recognized tribal members from its benefits. The full text of the problem is available here.

Several other teams of Columbians advanced beyond the elimination rounds: Tanvir Vahora ’11 and Kyle Kolb ’11 made the final eight, and Lauren Gallo ’11 and Jacqueline Palma ’11 made the final 16. Approximately 40 teams total entered the competition.



SEATTLE, WASHINGTON (February 11, 2006) — Columbia Law School is pleased to announce that Mainon Schwartz ’08 has won the “Best Individual Oralist” award at the 14th annual National Native American Moot Court Competition. The award was presented at a February 11th banquet following this year’s moot court competition at the University of Washington, Seattle.

This year’s teams from Columbia were: 

April Day ’07 and Raven Sealy ’08
Michael Kerman ’08 and Mainon Schwartz ’08
Gabriel Martinez ’08 and Nicole Willis ’08

Chrissie DeMaso ’07 and Adrian Barnes ’07 served as coaches.

Ms. Schwartz was presented with a trophy and a copy of a newly-published environmental Indian law casebook in recognition of her achievement.



Columbia students distinguished themselves at the National Native American Law Students Association held at the UCLA School of Law. Chrisse DeMasso ’07 finished in first place and Devin Slack ’07 finished in third place in the Best Individual Oralist competition. The team, made up of all members of the Class of 2007, consisted of: April Day, Anton Jongoneel, Wade Gungoll, Daron Carreiro, Chrissie DeMaso , Thomasina Hare, Adrian Barnes, Naureen Shah, Devin Slack, and Melissa Tiarks. Denten Robinson ’05 and Katie Morgan ’05 coordinated the NALSA Moot Court program at Columbia with the aid of Adjunct Professor Doug Endreson.