Students Get Real with Supreme Court Case

Students at Supreme CourtStudents enrolled in the Indian Law Appellate Advocacy seminar during the spring semester learned more than textbook law; they gained real-life experience as they followed a significant Indian Law case, Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Company.

After reviewing in detail and discussing all of the briefs filed in the case and preparing reply briefs on the same schedule as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court, they traveled to the University of Colorado for a moot argument that helped prepare David Frederick, the Long family attorney, for his oral argument before the high court in April.

At CU, Dan Rey-Bear, who co-taught the UNM class with Rodina Cave, was on a panel that simulated the Supreme Court, and the questions he asked Frederick were those prepared by the students, three of whom accompanied him on the trip.

After the trip and after the oral arguments before the Supreme Court, the UNM students presented their arguments before a New Mexico judicial panel led by New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Ed Chavez (`81). Joining him on the panel were state Appeals Court Judges Michael Bustamante and Cynthia Fry (`81).

"This was a great opportunity for the students to see and experience what the process is like before a case gets decided and to see that moot court is not just something students do in law school, but that real attorneys do this to prepare for significant cases," says Rey-Bear, who, along with Cave, works for the Nordhaus Law Firm. "They got to observe law being made and were able to participate in that."