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Aaron Martin (`10) and Joshua Granata (`11) represented the UNM School of Law in the mid-February National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition at Pace Law School in White Plains, NY, along with 82 other teams. They were coached by Professor Eileen Gauna (`85).
The team argued once for each of the three-party litigants in the preliminary rounds of the competition, but were eliminated before the quarterfinals, along with 55 other teams. The judges, at times relentless, were most impressed with the UNM team's knowledge of case law and solid legal arguments.
In preparation for the competition, Martin and Granata independently researched and wrote a 35-page appellate brief and arranged and participated in many practice moots. The team is thankful for the assistance of all of those who graciously volunteered their time to prepare them.
This year’s problem involved the shipment of used electronic devices overseas for recycling in an unregulated operation that resulted in significant environmental damage and likely medical injury to one of the plaintiffs. Legal questions included issues of Constitutional and statutory standing, redress under the Alien Torts Claims Act and characterization of the electronic items as "solid" and "hazardous" waste under the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act.
The feedback from the judges was instructive, and at times amusing. Commenting on their argument for the industry, one judge referenced Lee Strasberg’s, “This is the business we’ve chosen,” speech in The Godfather II when referring to Martin’s presentation style, presumably because it was not as sympathetic to the plaintiff as the judge would have preferred.
During the oral argument rounds of the competition, the team competed against prestigious schools such as Berkeley, Loyola, George Washington University and University of Wyoming, which made it to the final rounds. The team enjoyed the camaraderie of their competitors and the variety of presentation styles.
The competition was fierce, but the team was honored to represent the school. Martin and Granata were also thankful for the improvement to their written and oral advocacy skills that only such a challenge can provide.