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Faculty of Law
UNB Fredericton

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Students shine at 57th Harrison moot

In mid-September, second-year students Chantalle Briggs, Nicole Pelletier, Navy Vezina, and Jake Humphrey competed in the 57th Hon. William Henry Harrison Moot Court Competition. The “Harrison Shield” as it has become known, is an annual internal mooting competition that sees the four students who received top grades in the oral advocacy component of the first-year mooting program compete for the coveted Harrison Shield.

In this year’s competition, counsel for the appellant (Briggs and Pelletier) and counsel for the respondent (Vezina and Humphrey) engaged with a legal problem based on the 2013 case of Inglis v. British Columbia. Inglis involved the Minister of Public Safety for British Columbia’s decision to remove the “Mom-Infant Program” from a provincial correctional facility. The program permitted, on a discretionary basis, the practice of “rooming-in,” which allowed the infants to live with their mothers in prison until the age of two. The fact pattern provided to the students indicated that the program's cancellation resulted in the automatic apprehension of babies born to incarcerated mothers and their placement in foster care.

Preparing written and oral arguments for such a contentious legal problem takes an exceptional amount of time and effort for the students.

“Sorting through all of the material on S.15 [of the Charter] was challenging,” said Pelletier. “Translating the written argument into an oral one, and constraining it all to a short time limit, was the most challenging aspect of the entire moot for me.”

Jake Humphrey and teammate Navy Vezina used practice benching to prep their oral arguments, readying themselves to be challenged by the judges. “A couple of times a week we would have upper-year students pick our submissions apart and hit us with tough questions,” said Humphrey. “Practice benches were essential in preparing for everything and anything that might get thrown at you.” “It is important to try different research styles or advocacy strategies,” added Vezina. “Mooting is a rare opportunity in our field to get feedback from real judges without real legal consequences.”

The countless hours of preparation paid off as both sides argued valiantly in front of guest judges Madam Justice Barbara Baird of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal (UNB Law Class of 1976), Basil Alexander, Assistant Professor at UNB Law, and Amy Gough Farnworth, a part-time instructor at UNB Law and Director of Labour Relations with New Brunswick Community College.

Chantalle Briggs summed up the experience of arguing in front of such an experienced legal panel, saying, “Mooting trains you to think on the spot. It is one thing to put a good argument on paper. It’s another entirely to be challenged on this argument and defend it to people who know more than you. It is also important to develop the skills to argue in a way that that is respectful, conversational, and non-combative.”

All four students gave exceptional performances. After lengthy deliberation by the panel, the 2019 Harrison Shield was awarded to Chantalle Briggs and Jake Humphrey for their outstanding oral advocacy skills in the competition.

Congratulations to all participants and thanks to Professors Kerri Froc and Jane Thomson for their hard work in organizing the 57th edition of the moot.

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