First-Year Students Excel at Annual Advocacy Tournament

April 25, 2011

The final round
The final round, l-r: Judge Cynthia Fry (`81), Judge Michael Vigil, Joshua Curtis (`13), Leah Stevens-Block (`13) and Judge Michael Bustamante (`74).

Joshua Curtis (`13) took home the top prize in the 2011 New Mexico Court of Appeals Advocacy Tournament. He prevailed over Leah Stevens-Block (`13) in a split decision of the three-judge panel comprised of New Mexico Court of Appeals judges Michael Bustamante (`74), Cynthia Fry (`81) and Michael Vigil. A total of 44 students participated in the tournament, which, for the past 16 years has been an end-of-year tradition for first-year students.

This year’s case involved a Wisconsin Indian tribe that sought to operate a restaurant without imposition of state licensing requirements. Curtis won arguing for the tribe and Stevens-Block argued for the state of Wisconsin.

The final round
The finalists preparing: Leah Stevens-Block (`13) and Joshua Curtis (`13).

Words of appreciation from tournament organizer Barbara Blumenfeld, who leads the University of New Mexico School of Law’s legal writing program: “There are so many people to thank, without whom the tournament would not be the success that it is: Of course, the judges – local members of the bar and judiciary who take time away from their busy schedules to participate in this important first year experience, and especially the Court of Appeals judges who judge the final round and lend their support throughout as well as their name to the tournament.

“But also key to the success of the tournament are the bailiffs (second- and third-year students who are advocacy tutors), my advocacy faculty colleagues: Megan Argo and Steven Homer, and last but not least, my Administrative Assistant Theresa Montoya, who handles all my correspondence with the judges as well as handling last-minute emergencies and otherwise keeping things moving smoothly.

“I never cease to be impressed with the quality and skill of the students who participate.”