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Meet the Jammu University team that won the Spirit of Stetson Award.
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Meet the Jammu University team that won the Spirit of Stetson Award.

Shreya V

The team of Prashant Kartgora, Rajdeep Singh Thakur and Kritika Sethi from the Law School, University of Jammu won the “Spirit of Stetson” award at the Stetsons International Environmental Moot Court Competition 2015.

In this e-mail interview, Bar & Bench talks to the team about their experience at the competition.

Bar & Bench: What does this award mean to you?

Jammu University: The award that our team received is “Spirit of Stetson”. As the title suggests, the award is given for being the most spirited team and is based on the votes casted by the other teams, which is further based on our interaction with the other teams.  It recognises civility, justice and fair play. So yes, we take a lot of pride in it.

B&B: How was the Stetsons experience?

JU: It was awesome! The very aura of this 115 year old institution is moving. The luxurious courtrooms, the highly organized 24×7 library, the suites, The Great Hall, the highly learned faculty, the cafe inside the campus and so on so forth.  The most memorable experience though, was arguing before the jury of 3rd preliminary round. The panel consisted of Bradnee Chambers, the executive secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species headquartered in Bonn, Germany and  Professor Royal C. Gardner, a senior professor at  the Stetson College of law and the man who had actually framed the moot problem. The best feature from a learning point of view was the 5-7 minute interaction period between compiling of marks and declaration of the result at the end of each round during which each jury member pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of individual speakers as per their observations.

I accidently got tickets booked for a hotel, which was close to the De Land campus and 100miles away from the Gulfport campus where the competition was actually to be held. When Professor Royal C. Gardner found out, he did us a huge favour by accommodating us at The Mann Lounge inside The Stetson campus! Lodging would have been an expensive problem otherwise.

B&B: Does your University encourage mooting?

JU: We, the members of the moot committee along with our Director are trying to revive the mooting culture that our college once had and it is showing good results. The juniors are now keener to participate in mooting, especially after the Stetsons result.

B&B: What is the moot selection process followed at your University?

JU: The moot selection process in our university is pretty normal – a notification of a moot court competition being held followed by framing of a moot problem. Teams usually have  2 speakers from the senior batches and a researcher from the junior batches, depending on one’s skills in memorial drafting and oral arguing. The professors and alumni then grill the winning team better in pursuance of any national level moot court competition to be participated in.

B&B: Any advice for those participating in Stetsons next year?

JU: It is very important to form a team with members with similar mind-sets. If their wavelength doesn’t match, they might find it hard to study together or may not be able to demark their respective roles in the team. Every member must be made absolutely clear about her/ his role in the team.  One must chose members who are actually interested in mooting and not just intending to escape attending classes and going places!

Another important aspect is making sure that the team members can and will afford the requisite expenses for national rounds, international rounds, visa expenditure, cost of travelling, and so on and so forth.  Our team originally consisted of 2 speakers and a researcher but the researcher could not join us for Florida international rounds.

Start preparing the memorial as soon as possible so that every day you add something new. This process goes on till the final day of submission although once it is submitted, it cannot be amended. Before you start framing your memorials, go through a couple of previous year’s memorials that have been uploaded at the Stetson website.

Read the problem repeatedly, understand it, live with it, sleep with it, wake up with it, and embrace it! Knowing the facts is more important than knowing the law. Incorporate at least one case law in support of your each submission. Prepare a line of action, kind of a story that you have to make the judges believe in! Practice your line of action with your team. Be loud. Be vocal. Be sure. Have faith in the story. You cannot convince the judges unless you yourself are convinced.

One major issue that every participating team is bound to face is lodging! If you have a team of 3-6 members (coaches and extra researchers included), the most convenient way out is to book a house on rent nearby the Stetson campus. Such houses are easily available online and have clothe irons, central air conditioning, 24×7 electricity, pre stored food good enough for about a day for 3-5 people and so on. Bigger the group, lesser the money to be pooled in by each member. So, when you compose your team, keep this in mind as well.

At Stetsons, a jury advised us that  “Don’t look at a question by the jury as a challenge, look at it as an opportunity to impress them”! Many a times, the question put to you by the judge is to help you, not to push you against the wall.