GW National Religious Freedom
Moot Court Competition
February 1-2, 2013 | Washington, DC
Presented by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society
Each year the competition recruits distinguished judges and scholars from around the country to serve as members of our moot court panel.
The Religious Freedom Moot Court Competition has been honored to have experts in the field and appellate judges participate: Kevis Seamus Hasson, Founder and President of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Judge Kent Jordan of the 3rd Circuit; Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the 6th Circuit; Judge John M. Rogers of the 6th Circuit; Judges Diarmuid O'Scannlain and Milan Smith of the 9th Circuit; and Judges Janice Rogers Brown and Thomas B. Griffith of the D.C. Circuit. Each year, we have also had dozens of other First Amendment scholars participate as preliminary, quarterfinal, and semifinal round judges.
2013 Final Round Judges
Justice Christine Durham
Justice Christine Durham has been on the Utah Supreme Court since 1982, and served as Chief Justice and Chair of the Utah Judicial Council from 2002 to 2012. She previously served on the state trial court after a number of years in private practice. She received her A.B. with honors from Wellesley College and a J.D. from Duke University, where she is an emeritus member of the Board of Trustees.
She is the Past-President of the Conference of Chief Justices of the United States, and also the past-chair of the American Bar Association's Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the entity that accredits American law schools. She is a member of the Council of the American Law Institute, the Board of Overseers for the Rand Corporation's Institute for Civil Justice, and is a Fellow of the American Bar Association. Past professional service includes the governing boards of the American Inns of Court Foundation, the Appellate Judges Conference of the ABA, the ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession, and the Federal Judicial Conference's Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure. She is also a past president of the National Association of Women Judges, and was that organization's Honoree of the Year in 1997. Justice Durham has been active in judicial education, and was a founder of the Leadership Institute in Judicial Education. She helped create and lead the Utah Coalition for Civic Character and Service Education and served on the Utah Commission on Civic Education. She was an adjunct professor for many years at the University of Utah College of Law, teaching state constitutional law, and served for twelve years on the Utah Constitutional Revision Commission. She has received honorary degrees from four Utah universities and has been recognized nationally for her work in judicial education and efforts to improve the administration of justice.
In 2007 she received the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence; and in 2008 she received the "Transparent Courthouse" Award for contributions to judicial accountability and administration from the Institute for the Advancement of the Legal System at the University of Denver.
Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod
Jennifer Walker Elrod serves as a Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, with chambers in Houston, Texas. Prior to her confirmation, Judge Elrod was appointed and twice elected Judge of the 190th District Court of Harris County, Texas, where she spent over five years presiding over more than 200 jury and non‑jury trials.
Judge Elrod is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Baylor University, which has recognized her as an Outstanding Young Alumna. She graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she was an Ames Moot Court finalist and Senior Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. Following law school, she clerked for the Honorable Sim Lake of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Before serving as a judge, Judge Elrod was in private practice, focusing on civil litigation, antitrust, and employment matters.
Judge Elrod is a member of the Baylor Board of Regents, is an elected member of the American Law Institute, is the Board Chair of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics, is a member of the Board of the Houston Urban Debate League, and has served on the Texas State Bar Committee on Pattern Jury Charges. In 2008, the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas named her Judge of the Year, and in 2010, she presented the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Distinguished Lecture at Washington and Lee University School of Law. She has twice received the President’s Award from the Houston Bar Association. In 2004, the Houston Young Lawyers Association (HYLA) named her the Woodrow Seals Outstanding Young Lawyer of Houston, and in 2012 HYLA presented her with the Outstanding Mentor Award. Judge Elrod served pro bono as the first general counsel of Communities in Schools-Houston, one of the largest dropout prevention organizations in the country, and as Chair of the Board of the Gulf Coast Legal Foundation (now Lone Star Legal Aid), a major legal services provider for the indigent. She also received the Judge Thomas Gibbs Gee award for her pro bono work, and has taught legal writing and advocacy as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Houston Law Center. In 2011, she has served as the M.D. Anderson Visiting Public Service Professor at the Texas Tech University School of Law.
Walter M. Weber
Walter M. Weber is Senior Litigation Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). A highly regarded legal writer, Weber received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was a moot court finalist. Weber emphasizes First Amendment law and has written more than 100 briefs in Supreme Court cases, including the briefs for the successful petitioners in Scheidler v. NOW, Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, and Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic. Weber has argued more than a dozen times in appeals before federal and state courts. Prior to joining the ACLJ, Weber served as a staff attorney with the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and, later, with Free Speech Advocates.