Ohio Wesleyan’s 2021-2022 Moot Court team includes coach and professor Michael Esler (left), Anna Nacci, Avery Newcom, Federico Mata Ulivi, Carter Haskel, Walker Nilan, and Hannah Taylor. (Photo courtesy of Michael Esler)

‘Small but Formidable’

Ohio Wesleyan Students Compete in 2021-2022 Moot Court Program

By Cole Hatcher

Three teams of Ohio Wesleyan University students competed in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s 2021-2022 season, with OWU sophomore Anna Nacci ranking among the best individual orators in the Cleveland Regional competition.

“We are one of a handful of small liberal arts colleges that consistently places teams and individual orators at the top levels of regional tournaments and earns bids to the national tournament,” said Moot Court coach Michael Esler, Ph.D., OWU professor of Politics and Government.

“Most successful teams come from universities with law schools and large staffs,” Esler continued. “We have developed a reputation as a small but formidable opponent. This year’s teams maintained that reputation with their strong performances.”

In the regional competition, held fall semester at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Ohio Wesleyan teams earned the following:

  • The team of Anna Nacci of Wooster, Ohio, and Avery Newcom of Denver, Colorado, advanced to the Round of 16 on the first day of competition. They finished ninth overall, just missing advancing to the Round of 8, Esler said. Nacci won individual awards for finishing as the eighth-best individual orator in the tournament.
  • The team of Federico Mata Ulivi of Boca Raton, Florida, and Walker Nilan of Delaware, Ohio, also advanced to the Round of 16, while the team of Carter Haskel of Denver and Hannah Taylor of Novelty, Ohio, just missed qualifying for this quarterfinal round, Esler said. All three teams scored victories in their preliminary rounds as they argued this year’s moot course case, which dealt with polio vaccination actions taken in 2021 by Congress and the president.

The American Moot Court Association is the nation’s leading undergraduate moot court competition. Over 300 teams representing colleges from across the country compete annually. Each year, the Association produces a moot case that raises two constitutional issues. Schools form two-person teams, with each team member mastering one of the legal issues. Students conduct research about their issue, prepare legal arguments for both sides, and then present their arguments to judges and attorneys in a series of tournaments.

“The time commitment is significant,” Esler said. “I am always impressed with how our students prepare for the competitions while balancing all the other activities in which OWU students typically engage. At many schools, moot court is the only activity for students who participate. At Ohio Wesleyan, it is just one of many activities.”

Students interested in joining OWU’s moot court team or learning more about its Pre-Law major should contact Michael Esler at mvesler@owu.edu.