Bryan team wins student legislative honors

June 4, 2014

tisl2smBryan’s student attorney team finished second, and one student legislator was honored for outstanding service when the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature met in Nashville recently.

Delegates to the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature
included, from left, Maddie Mondell, David Corwin,
Sam Gilbertson, and Ashton Alexander. “Attorneys” Ashton Alexander and Sam Gilbertson finished their moot court competition undefeated but four-tenths of a point behind Bethel University’s team, a team that they did not face in “court.” Along the way, they defeated teams from Vanderbilt University twice and Rhodes College.

At the same time, their legislator colleagues, Sen. Maddie Mondell and Rep. David Corwin, scored wins of their own. David received a Carlisle Award, given to five representatives and five senators for outstanding work in the student general assembly. And two bills introduced by the two were passed and sent to the “governor.”

“We had to write our own bills,” David explained. “Every bill was assigned to a committee, and the committees passed or dropped the bills. Those that were passed went to the full Senate or House” where they were debated and passed or defeated.

Maddie said, “My bill passed pretty easily. It would require those over the age 65 to get regular driving tests to renew their driver’s licenses.”

David’s bill, on the other hand, came down to a tiebreaking vote by the speaker of the house. The bill would allow colleges in the state to determine whether students with concealed-carry permits could carry concealed firearms on individual campuses.

“You go there with an agenda you want to achieve,” Maddie said. “You start networking to support or oppose what people have proposed. While this is happening you have people running for governor and other offices.

“TISL serves as a workshop demonstrating that we have to be responsible for what we do. If I vote on something, I have to understand what the effects are going to be. It really puts you in the legislative mode. You’re tired, pulled in a lot of directions, yet you still have to debate in a responsible manner.”

David said the experience reassured him that he really does want to become involved with state government as a career. “The legislative process is not always as easy as it may seem. It takes a lot of time, effort, research and networking. TISL teaches you how to do that. Quite a few TISL alumni have gone on to serve in state government.”

On the judicial front Ashton and Sam, in different rounds, had to argue both sides of a case involving a lawsuit between parents and their 10-year-old son. “Other schools had teams arguing one side or the other,” Ashton said. “We had to change sides from round to round.”

Before the moot court convened, they had to submit a brief about the case, which was evaluated as part of the score. “One judge gave our brief a 93, the other a 96,” Ashton said. “In the final round we debated in the new Tennessee Supreme Court building. That was a huge privilege, and nerve-wracking.” For that round, they argued before five student judges and three practicing attorneys.

Sam, who argued a case in the 2011 competition, said that a scoring error kept the Bryan team from reaching the final round then, “so I had to try again to see how far we could go.”

The legal preparation—reading case law and briefs, preparing arguments, and trying to anticipate questions “did quite a bit to prepare me for law school,” he said. “It was good to see how you compare with others in the field. It really affirmed something I have a passion for.”

Ashton added, “I understand now the process attorneys go through, especially those who do court work. They have to prepare for any contingency, especially questions from the judge. I learned a lot of procedural information, and how complicated it can be.”