Two first-year Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law students, Ashley Anderson and Lindsay Joanou, faced-off before a packed house in the appellate courtroom on Monday for the final round of the 2016 Rutan & Tucker Golden Gavel Competition.

Two female students at Rutan and Tucker competition

Golden Gavel winners Lindsay Joanou and Ashley Anderson

Although the two winners are determined in advance, the final hearing offers the students a unique opportunity to test their advocacy skills before a panel of prestigious judges, family and friends.

Speaking to finalists at the conclusion of their arguments, competition judge and Rutan & Tucker partner John Hurlbut stressed, “I think one of the best things I saw – and this is something that every advocate needs to know  – was how well you had absolute presence and understanding of all the cases, and were able to turn them around in a way that supported your positions. That’s something that’s really hard to do, but both of you did an incredible job.”

The exhibition was the culmination of the week-long annual competition in which all first-year students present a mock appellate oral argument based on legal briefs written in the spring semester of their required Legal Research and Writing (LRW) class. Out of more than 150 participating students, four made it to the final round, Ryan Cooper and Lindsay Joanou for the plaintiff and Ashley Anderson and Marie Sutton for the defendant. Ultimately, Joanou and Anderson received the coveted Golden Gavel award and $500 scholarship.

Student at court podium

Ashley Anderson argues her case in the final round of the Golden Gavel Competition

“We think Ashley and Lindsay both performed extremely well,” said Legal Research and Writing Professor Rita Barnett. “They both knew their facts and their cases inside and out, articulated their respective positions clearly, and handled the judges’ questions respectfully and admirably. It’s always great as LRW professors to have our spring semester end with this competition and to watch our 1L students perform so professionally.”

This year’s judges were Judge Glenda Sanders, Superior Court of California; Justice David Thompson, California 4th District Court of Appeal; and John Hurlbut, Partner at Rutan & Tucker.

The case related to whether the single purpose container exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement should be determined by the objective layperson viewpoint or the subjective officer viewpoint, and whether the defendant was entitled to a jury instruction on entrapment.

The annual competition is sponsored by Rutan & Tucker, LLP, a leading Orange County law firm with a strong history of investment in the mission of Chapman University and the Fowler School of Law, including the annual Golden Gavel and Golden Quill first-year advocacy and writing competitions.