1999-2000 Competition Results
Breaking Up the Ghetto: The Barriers to Integrating Low Cost Housing and People of Color Into the Broader Community
The Fifteenth Annual University of Minnesota Law School National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition was held March 2 - 4, 2000 at the University of Minnesota Law School. Twenty-eight teams from the following law schools participated:
Each team briefed and argued Walker v. City of Mesquite, 169 F.3d 973 (5th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 120 S. Ct. 969 (Jan. 18, 2000), a case that focused on the attempt by white homeowners in an affluent area of Dallas to enjoin construction of low cost public housing units in their community and their claim that the court order directing that such project be built violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The construction project was part of an effort to remedy years of segregation in Dallas public housing. The teams argued whether the white homeowners had standing to challenge the remedial order and, if so, whether their equal protection rights were violated.
The Honorable Norma L. Shapiro, District Judge, United States District Court in Philadelphia, the Honorable Edward Toussaint, Chief Judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, former Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Stephen W. Cooper and Richard L. Varco, Jr., an Assistant Attorney General with the Minnesota Office of the Attorney General, presided over the final argument in Lockhart Hall.
The overall winner of the competition was New York University School of Law. The University of Minnesota Law School team consisting of Susan MacMenamin and Mike Geiger placed second. The University of Minnesota Law School team consisting of Phil Duran and Paul Chestovich won Best Brief honors. Francis Clay from Mercer Law School Team No. 1 was named Best Oral Advocate with Farrah Pepper of New York University School of Law placing a close second and receiving Honorable Mention. The other teams that advanced to the quarter-final and/or semi-final rounds included Villanova University School of Law and George Mason University School of Law which advanced to the semi-finals, and the University of Wisconsin School of Law Team No. 1, Mercer Law School Teams 1 & 2 and the University of Minnesota Team No. 1 which advanced to the quarter-finals.
As with all of the Law School's moot court programs, the National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition received strong support from the practicing bar and bench. Over 140 members of the bar and bench took part in judging briefs, oral arguments or both. Prior to the competition, the Civil Rights Moot Court offered the volunteer judges a free Continuing Legal Education program, "Breaking Up the Ghetto: The Barriers to Integrating Low Cost Housing and People of Color Into the Broader Community". The well attended program included a panel discussion regarding the legal, constitutional and policy issues involved in housing cases like Walker v. City of Mesquite and Hollman v. Cisneros an on-going local case similar to Walker in which several units of subsidized housing on the near north side of Minneapolis have been razed and efforts are being made to integrate its tenants and low income housing into non-minority and more affluent areas of the city and suburbs. The panel consisted law school faculty member and Director of the Institute on Race and Poverty, Prof. john powell; Minneapolis Legal Aid attorney Tim Thompson, who represents the class of Minneapolis housing project tenants; HUD counsel Steve Gronewald, Minneapolis Housing Public Housing Authority attorney Jack Cann and NAACP attorney Tom White. Professors Philip Frickey and Jim Chen discussed the appropriate analysis of constitutional and standing issues in cases of this nature. Minneapolis Legal Aid Housing Discrimination Law Project attorney Kevin Reuther discussed the status of equal housing opportunity in the Twin Cites and causes of action and remedies for housing discrimination, and Prof. Maury Landsman discussed the ethical issues involved in using class actions to address housing and other forms of discrimination.