UNM Team Reaches Semi-finals at Animal Law Moot Court

Animal Law Moot Court
Pictured from left to right: Chris Atencio, Tara Kinman, Sara Blankenhorn, Professor Baum, and John Verheul

The teams of Chris Atencio (`11) and Sara Blankenhorn (`11), and Tara Kinman (`11) and John Verheul (`11) gave exceptional performances at the 2010 National Animal Law Moot Court Competition at Harvard Law School, with the team of Kinman and Verheul advancing to the semi-final round. The judges also nominated Atencio and Verheul as best oralist.

During the early rounds, Kinman and Verheul went up against teams from Florida Coastal School of Law and Lewis & Clark Law School, which faced off in the final rounds. The panel of judges in Kinman and Verheul’s semi-final round included an appellate court judge from Arizona, as well as animal law faculty member from Harvard and Georgetown law schools. Arguing off-brief, Kinman and Verheul made an exceptionally strong case for the government in an action involving wild horses and administrative procedure.

“The judges acknowledged that the performances of the two teams were so good that declaring a winner was extremely difficult,” said their coach, Professor Marsha Baum. “While Tara and John did not move into the final round, they demonstrated knowledge of the law, ability to respond to questions and to appellants' arguments, and tremendous poise.”

Although Atencio and Blankenhorn did not advance in the competition, the judges were impressed with their knowledge of the law and their preparation. Atencio's calm demeanor and poise earned him a comment from one judge from the Harvard faculty who said, "I aspire to be you." 

“The quality of their performances was the result of a tremendous amount of preparation and practice and collaboration on development of the strongest themes and arguments,” said Baum.

“Many people gave of their time to help the team prepare for the competition during the four weeks of practice,” she added. “Professors Eileen Gauna (`85) and Reed Benson provided essential guidance on the substance of NEPA and the APA. They also judged practice rounds, along with Professor Michael Browde and many of our alums and current students. Thanks to all.”