First, the release date of the fact pattern was moved up from January of the year of the competition to November 15, 2019, in order to give a significantly longer time for practice and preparation. Second, in order to avoid students competing at the end of May when most schools are holding their advanced placement testing, the competition date was moved up to the last week of March. Additionally, adjustments were made to the number of teams a school may field; and the field of potential competitors was expanded to include sophomores and freshmen so that those students could have the opportunity to gain experience and participate for two additional years.
At the outset of this year’s competition, nearly every school in the Virgin Islands had signed up to participate, many schools with two teams. In fact, the competition was just a week away when the pandemic occurred, and the government instituted a prohibition on in-person gatherings. As such, the competition was delayed indefinitely until further information about the pandemic was available. The re-planning then commenced on June 15 when the government of the territory reopened.
Fortunately, during that time, the Judiciary of the Virgin Islands and the Virgin Islands Bar Association had successfully made available electronic video conferencing platforms for similar programs. The planning committee utilized the V.I. Bar Association’s online platform and reformatted the competition to facilitate the use of these electronic forums.
Four schools entered six teams that ultimately competed in the final competition. The schools that entered were on St. Thomas: Antilles School, All Saints Cathedral School and Seventh-day Adventist School; on St. Croix: St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School. Antilles School and All Saints Cathedral School each entered one team. Seventh-day Adventist School on St. Thomas entered two teams, and St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School entered two full teams and one individual competitor.
The first round of competition was held on Aug. 4. The competition began with introductory remarks from Nesha Christian-Hendrickson Esq., the president of the VIBA. Chief Judge of the District Court of the Virgin Islands Honorable Wilma A. Lewis gave a rather inspirational welcome address to the competitors after which the judges for the first round of the competition were introduced and given the opportunity to also give brief remarks.
Andrew C. Simpson Esq. of Andrew C. Simpson P.C., Rhea R. Lawrence Esq. of Lee J. Rohn & Associates LLC and Christopher A. Kroblin Esq. of Kellerhals, Ferguson, Kroblin PLLC served as moot associate justices questioning and evaluating the competitors. The Honorable Soraya Diase-Coffelt, senior judge of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands and attorney at law, served as the panel’s moot chief justice.
Antilles’ counsel for the moot appellant, Amisha Mirchandani and Viren Punjabi, were the first to argue this moot appeal. Following them were counsel from St. Croix’s Seventh-day Adventist School for the moot appellees, Ashley Ravariere and Jahmar Ecchevaria. The next pairing was Wilah-Marie Baptiste and Se-An Rawlins from Seventh Day Adventist School on St. Thomas representing the appellees. The fourth pair of moot attorneys to argue were Chaenelle Ravariere and Kajani Reynolds from St Croix Seventh-day Adventist School.
All Saints Cathedral School’s team, Alexa Comissiong and Nia Woods, then presented arguments on behalf of the appellant. Appellant’s counsel from St. Thomas’s Seventh-day Adventist School, Angelica Sterling and Amarah Creque, were the last team to present arguments. Finally, Hilsanna Chooran from St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School presented a single argument, as competitors had been given the option of presenting an argument individually in order to compete for placement as a top oralist.
Natasha Hodge Esq., an assistant attorney general at the Virgin Islands Department of Justice, coached the competitors from St. Thomas’s Seventh-day Adventist School; Tina Comissiong, counsel for Schneider Regional Medical Center, coached for All Saints Cathedral School; Charlotte Perrell Esq. of Dudley Newman Feuerzeig LLP coached for Antilles School.
Attorney Holly Fulkerson from the Legal Services of the Virgin Islands coached the teams from St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School. Attorney Perrell was assisted by Claire Anaclerio Esq. and Anna Vlasova Esq., both are associate attorneys at Dudley Newman Feuerzeig LLP. Karis George served as the faculty advisor at Seventh-day Adventist School on St. Thomas.
On St. Croix, moot attorneys Chaenelle Ravariere and Kajani Reynolds finished in first; and Ashley Ravariere and Jahmar Ecchevaria finished second. Individually, Chaenelle Ravariere was the best oralist, with Kajani Reynolds, Ashley Ravariere, and Jahmar Ecchevaria placing sequentially thereafter. On St. Thomas, the first place team was Wilah-Marie Baptiste and Se-An Rawlins, of Seventh-day Adventist School, arguing for the moot appellees. All Saints then finished second; Antilles School finished third.
Individually, on St. Thomas, Wilah-Marie Baptiste was the Best Oralist. Se-An Rawlins finished second, and Angelica Sterling placed third. All three were from Seventh-day Adventist School. Nia Woods from All Saints finished fourth.
The championship was held on Wednesday, Aug. 5. Henry C. Smock Esq., of Smocklaw P.C., on St. Thomas, a Senior Judge of the Superior Court, and the Honorable Denise M. Francois, judge of the Superior Court, served as moot justices. The Honorable Ernest Morris, magistrate judge of the Superior Court, served as the panel’s moot chief justice. The competition champions were Wilah-Marie Baptiste and Se-An Rawlins of Seventh-day Adventist School arguing for the moot appellees.