FORT LAUDERDALE — Fort Lauderdale High School’s Moot Court team has won statewide honors at the Florida Law Related Education Association (FLREA) annual Moot Court Competition.
The team took second place Honorable Mention Petitioner Team statewide. In addition, team members Pasquale Celentano and junior Scott Schweizer argued before the Florida First District Court of Appeal.
This was the first time the team had ascended to that level in its four years, and the second time it had argued before the First DCA. Shutts & Bowen LLP, which sponsors the team, hosted a celebration May 23 at its Fort Lauderdale office.
“Volunteers have put hundreds of hours into this program,” said Suzanne Driscoll, a team coach and eminent domain litigator in Shutts & Bowen’s Fort Lauderdale office. “Local friends in the community give up an entire Saturday to judge the mock trial program, which shows real community spirit.” As petitioners, the team argued that the Constitution’s Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms outside the home.
“Dan Katz, the team’s instructor, will not permit us to write for the team,” Driscoll said. “They must do all the work themselves. If an argument is not clear, we send it back to them. This is part of the school’s Law Magnet program, and it introduces many kids from poorer backgrounds to new possibilities.
“They are amazing kids. For volunteers, every minute has been worth it.”
The 1,900-student Fort Lauderdale High School, led by Principal Priscilla Ribiero, includes a law magnet program with 500 students in grades 9-12. Officials said the program introduces students to concepts and the world of
being a lawyer, and teaches them the critical thinking and legal analysis skills that will help foster success. Frank DeRusso is Law Magnet coordinator, and Katz teaches Moot Court and Mock Trial. Katz, a former lawyer, said, “So many of the kids take the critical skills they learn and move into other things. The fact that they can critically think aids them
anywhere they go. Their success rate out there is based on what they have done right here. I am so proud of these kids. We look at ourselves as law parents.”