UNM Students Reach Semi-Finals in NLLSA Moot Court

Jessica TerrazasJessica Terrazas (`11) and Gabriela Ibañez Guzmán (`10) made it to the semi-final round of the National Latino/a Law Student Association (NLLSA) moot court competition held at DePaul University School of Law in Chicago in late September as part of the organization’s annual conference.

Twelve teams competed, with UNM, Texas Tech University School of Law and two teams from Columbia University School of Law reaching the semi-finals. UNM lost to Texas Tech, which went on to win the competition. Terrazas and Ibañez Guzmán made up the only team from UNM and MALSA.

Gabriela Ibanez-GuzmanThe issue argued was whether or not defense attorneys are required to inform their immigrant defendants of possible deportation consequences of a guilty plea. This issue is based on a real case (Padilla v. Kentucky, Docket # 08-651) scheduled to go before the U.S. Supreme Court later this month.

With the help of their coach, Chris Melendrez, (’08), Terrazas and Ibañez Guzmán began work on the competition last June and submitted a brief in August. Practice oral arguments were conducted before panels composed of mostly UNM School of Law alumni, including New Mexico Court of Appeals Judges Michael Bustamante (’74), Cynthia Fry (’81) and Robert Robles (’75).

NLLSA, a national umbrella organization for Latino law students, has its roots at UNM School of Law through MALSA. Its 2008 national conference was held in Albuquerque.