Published on April 19, 2022  
Rose Brisbon
Cumberland School of Law reached the quarterfinal round at the national level of the American Bar Association's National Moot Court Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC), April 8-10, 2022. The NAAC is one of the largest and most challenging moot court competitions in the country. This performance tied with Cumberland’s best outing in school history, last reaching the quarterfinals in 2009. This year’s team consisted of third-year students Mitchell Brisbon and Kaylee Rose who were coached by Judge Anne Durward ’95 and Anna Saunders ’19.

During two preliminary rounds, the pair advanced based on their combined brief and oral advocacy scores. Beginning at the octofinal round, each of five judges casts one ballot and a team must receive three ballots to move on to the next round. Brisbon and Rose won three ballots in the octofinal round before they were slated against the number one ranked team in the competition for the quarterfinals. Despite outscoring the number one team by five points, Brisbon and Rose barely missed advancing to semifinals by one ballot. In addition to the team’s group success, Brisbon earned the 6th place oral advocacy award out of 48 competing students at the national level.
 
"I am beyond excited about our results. I could not have asked for a better partner, and Kaylee and I have definitely sharpened each other over the last few months, as we have prepared relentlessly to represent Cumberland and give our all to our last law school competition,” said Brisbon. "We prayed before every round for clear minds to argue at our best and, more importantly, that God's will be done. And we're confident God answered our prayers. Did I want to go farther? Of course. But, that's in His hands. Now my hope is that future team members will take the same attitude, build on what we have done, and exceed our accomplishments. I look forward to remaining involved in some capacity, moving forward.
 
Rose, the chief justice of Cumberland’s Moot Court Board, said, “I second everything Mitchell said. The Lord blessed us throughout this entire process. We have felt the endless support of our classmates, the Cumberland staff and alumni, and attorneys throughout the state who have volunteered their time to help us prepare. Anything we have achieved this year ultimately points back to them and we could not be more thankful."

The ABA NAAC is an elite moot court competition that emphasizes oral advocacy skills through a realistic appellate advocacy experience. Moot court competitors participate in a hypothetical U.S. Supreme Court appeal, which includes writing an appellate brief as either respondent or petitioner and then arguing the case before the mock panel, enduring rigorous questioning by the judges.

This year, the case at issue consisted of a blind individual’s claim against a candy company for its alleged violation of Title III of the Americans with Disability Act based on the inaccessibility of its company website due to the unavailability of necessary screen reading software. Title III forbids discrimination in places of public accommodation and the services, among other things, the the public accommodation provides. The problem was divided into two civil law issues: (1) whether a website qualifies as a place of public accommodation in and of itself or (2) in the alternative, whether a commercial website is a service of a public place of accommodation with a sufficient nexus to a brick-and-mortar store as to fall within Title III coverage.
 
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.