On Saturday, April 27, 2019, Todd Wachtel, a Partner at our Hillsborough office, volunteered as a Judge in the Princeton Moot Court tournament. The two-day competition for high school students was held on the Princeton University campus. Todd had participated in Mock Trial and Moot Court while in law school, and was a member of a nationally ranked debate team a “lifetime ago” as an undergraduate at Syracuse University.
Moot Court, designed to simulate an Appellate or Supreme Court Argument, is a different type of simulated legal proceeding than Mock Trial, which involves an entire trial-level proceeding, jury and all. Moot Court competitions are composed of a single oral argument presented by each side, in addition to a petitioner’s rebuttal. They require in-depth analysis of case law and are heard by Judges who question attorneys about their arguments.
The Princeton Moot Court tournament is unique in that it brings in some of the top retired judges and practicing attorneys in the state to preside over proceedings, and pose questions to competitors intended to make them think quick on their feet. Their participation makes the competition more immersive and exciting for competitors.
The topic for this year’s tournament was a complicated Constitutional question regarding immigration law. As Todd noted, young competitors displayed an admirable ability to interpret case law and answer tough questions under time:
“What amazed me, and what I told the students, was that I was so impressed with everyone’s speed. Honestly, the whole thing happened so much faster than what you would see in the real world! It was a great experience, and the attorneys certainly kept me on my toes.”
Princeton Mock Trial, which organizes the Moot Court Competition, and was founded in 1765 by the former governor of the State of New Jersey, William Patterson when he was an alumni of the University. Other famous alumni include, James Madison, Aaron Burr, Woodrow Wilson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Kean, and Justice Samuel Alito.
In its over 250 years, it’s become a preeminent proving ground for talented students. Todd, as are many members of the Levinson Axelrod, P.A. legal team, happily dedicates his time and insight to these great causes – which benefit the next generation of legal minds, and provide refreshing insight into the practice of law for the real judges and lawyers who take the time to help.
Todd D. Wachtelis a Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney and former Deputy Attorney General for New Jersey who’s dedicated his practice to fighting on behalf of injured workers and their families. If you have a potential case to discuss, contact us.