The Mighty Conquerors of Moot Court


It has been roughly two weeks since I’ve last written, and what contrasting weeks those have been! The first was certainly relaxed, a time of falling back into the Mystic routine after a few days off to recover and readjust our bodies to east coast time and schedules that don’t quite require us to wake up at 6 am. Several of us took the break to either return home or retreat to our own little niches throughout Mystic—from the MSC to the library to Bartleby’s Coffee Shop—to work on our Literature essay or piece together our contact list for our Marine Policy research papers. This latter assignment resulted in a true “Williams-Mystic moment” for me at the end of the week when I found myself speaking to Dr. Chris Lowe, a renowned shark expert who also happened to be featured on Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” in 2011—where else would I have had this incredible opportunity?

Of course, over the weekend we also had to prepare for another, slightly more daunting Mystic experience: Moot Court. Moot Court, similar to a mock trial, is considered almost a rite of passage, and as Katy Hall handed out our dense trial packets on Friday before we left for the weekend, we knew that its notoriety was well deserved. The packet outlined the case of private landowners versus the town of Wells, Maine: a real-life issue that brings to light the question of coastal ownership and public trust of the ocean as a natural resource.

After being divided into two teams, we were scheduled to meet for evening sessions throughout the following week with Katy Hall and Brian Wagner, a fellow lawyer who accompanied us to the Pacific Northwest. Each member of our teams took the lead on a particular argument relating to law, policy, or our court system, and by Friday we entered the courtroom armed with as much knowledge on these aspects as we could possibly retain. Katy Hall invited Williams-Mystic alum and Maine attorney Derek Langhauser to preside over the case, and three hours later, we had survived!

As the closing argument for the landowners (who coincidentally also won the case), I could only sit there through the rest of the trial and admire the confidence with which my fellow classmates on both sides answered the judge’s questions. Our understanding of the case had grown exponentially since our first meeting, and it was incredible to see just how far we had come.

Now as I sit here, plopped on our insanely comfortable living room couch in Albion House and watching men in kilts walk by in preparation for Mystic’s renowned St. Patrick’s Day parade, I am beginning to think about our final field seminar. We leave for Louisiana on Tuesday morning (fortunately we’ve become used to the midnight wake-up call by the third time around), and though it feels as if we literally just returned from the Pacific Northwest, I think we are all excited to see what the southern coast has to offer.

I am a little incredulous that we are already preparing for this last trip. Time has flown by since our arrival at Mystic, and it only seems to go faster on these seminars. Still, I look forward to seeing the way the culture and the environment interact on a coastline that is rapidly changing, and it will be interesting to compare New Orleans to the other places we have visited. I also hear that lots of dancing and good food will be involved…only a few more days until we find out!

Fair Winds,


Author: williamsmystic

A one semester interdisciplinary ocean and coastal studies program integrating marine science, maritime history, environmental policy, and literature of the sea.

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