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D'Ontae Sylvertooth, a flex-time student, took top honors at the 14th Annual New Mexico Court of Appeals Oral Advocacy Tournament, an end-of-year tradition for first-year students at the UNM School of Law. Alice Barela was runner-up. A total of 39 students participated.
As it does every year, the problem involved an Indian law case. This year, students argued both sides of a case in which the Sabetha Indian Nation sued the U.S. government over a proposed solar collector test field near a sacred tribal area. The tribe maintained that looking out over a solar collector field from the religious area would disrupt their view and thus interfere with their freedom of religion and violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Throughout the four-day tournament, decisions were split evenly between both sides. In the final round, Sylvertooth successfully argued for the tribe.
The law school would like to thank the many lawyers and judges who served as judges during the tournament, especially New Mexico State Supreme Court Justice Richard Bosson and New Mexico Court of Appeals judges Michael Bustamante ('74) and Jonathan Sutin ('63), who judged the final round.