In late April, Baldwin hosted its first-ever virtual Moot Court Tournament. In moot court, students compete in teams of two to deliver oral arguments in a simulated Supreme Court case. The idea for the tournament was the brainchild of Samantha Eill '21, the founder and senior head of Baldwin's Moot Court Club. Disappointed by the cancelation of the annual Princeton Moot Court Tournament last spring, Samantha worked with History Teacher Dr. Athan Biss to write a grant proposal to host a replacement tournament. They won Baldwin’s Blair D. Stambaugh Award for Student and Faculty Enrichment and began to plan an in-person tournament.
The first thing to figure out was the case. Some moot courts argue entirely fictional cases, while others look to the high court's current docket for inspiration. Samantha and Dr. Biss decided they would split the difference by selecting a real case that the Supreme Court had rejected. The case, Baxter v. Bracey, raised intensely relevant questions about the use of force by police and qualified immunity, a legal doctrine thrust into the national spotlight following a rash of high-profile killings of unarmed African American men and women by police.
After pivoting to a virtual format, the organizers turned to Baldwin faculty, alumnae, parents and grandparents to serve as the competition's judges. Twelve teams competed including Baldwin sophomores, juniors and seniors. In the final round, Samantha Eill '21 and Bella Xia '21 represented the petitioner while Grace Halak '22 and Anna Raffaelli '22 represented the respondent. A group of legal luminaries drawn from the Baldwin community presided over a hard-fought final round. Eill and Xia emerged victorious, taking home the coveted Golden Cow Trophy. Baldwin's Ava Gessl '21 and Jared Miller of Friends Central were recognized as the Outstanding Attorneys of the Tournament. Dr. Biss hopes the event will become an annual tradition.