Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition

The Honorable John R. Brown served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit as one of the nation’s most prominent admiralty judges from 1955 until his death in 1993. Shortly after his death and in his honor, The University of Texas School of Law established the “Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition,” an interscholastic appellate advocacy competition. Each year, the Competition is held under the joint sponsorship of The University of Texas School of Law and a local host school.

Major funding each year is provided by the Houston law firm of Royston, Rayzor, Vickery & Williams L.L.P. (where Judge Brown practiced from 1932 to 1955) and the Maritime Law Association of the United States.

As in years past, last year we were privileged to have distinguished judges serving as judges for the Championship Round. For the semi-final rounds, we were pleased to have as judges prominent members of the maritime bar, presidents and past presidents of the Maritime Law Association of the United States, and admiralty professors.

Dear JJRBAMCC coaches and competitors,

I am sure that all of you have seen the stories in the media about the increasing severity of the coronavirus crisis.  The JJRBAMCC has not been immune from these new developments.  Several universities have already imposed travel bans that will make it impossible for their teams to travel to Portland, Maine next month, and we expect that others will soon follow suit.  We have therefore concluded that it will not be possible to conduct the Competition in our normal format.  We know how much work everyone has already put into the Competition, however, and we know how eager everyone is to finish the process.  We have therefore decided to continue with a new format that allows the Competition to continue without threatening public health.

The bottom line is that the Competition will proceed on essentially the same schedule, but on a remote basis.  We are still working out the details, but we expect that the preliminary rounds will be conducted on an audio-only basis.  In essence, each team will receive a call-in number to use at an assigned time for each round.  We hope that at least the Saturday rounds will be conducted as full video conferences (and we will explore the options for extending the video conferences to earlier rounds).  As I said, we are still working out the details, but we wanted to let you know what would be happening as soon as possible so that you can adjust your travel plans and cancel your hotel reservations.

We know that we will need to change a few things to accommodate this new format.  We may well have a virtual coaches’ meeting on Wednesday afternoon, April 1 (what would have been your travel day) rather than at 8:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday, April 2.  And we will not have a public coin toss to determine the sides in round III. (We will work out some other random assignment process.)  But these are just examples of details that we will need to resolve.  We will probably adjust some of the Rules, as well.  Stay tuned for further details as we work them out.  In the meantime, please let us know any questions or concerns that you have so that we can address them as we revise the plans.

We have always worked to make the JJRBAMCC as realistic as possible.  We are proud of how often the actual Supreme Court has granted certiorari to decide an issue that we had previously addressed.  That trend continues.  In the real world, courts are also being affected by coronavirus.  Many more hearings are now being conducted electronically.  Even before the crisis, some appellate courts heard cases in which an advocate appeared by video link.  Although this year’s Competition will not test all the skills that are a part of traditional oral advocacy, the ability to make a persuasive argument remotely is also an important skill in today’s world.  Moreover, we did not need to make any changes in the brief-judging process this year, and that is the most important part of appellate advocacy!

As I said, we will send you additional details as soon as we have them.  You should expect more email messages in the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, before 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 16, please (1) confirm that you have received this message; (2) confirm that each team will have access to a computer with a camera and a microphone during the three days of the Competition; and (3) send us the cell phone numbers for each member of the team (in case we need to do some last-minute trouble-shooting if a platform fails).

Although we are disappointed that we will not get to see everyone in person, we are still looking forward to a great competition in a new format this year!


Sarah Crockett
Director, Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition


Important Links:

2020 Registration Form: Required

2020 Registration: Pay by credit card – Registration closed 12/6/19

2020 JJRBAMCC Important Dates

2020 JJRBAMCC Rules

2020 Competition Problem (password required)

Team Briefs (password required)

To review past problems, click here.