Students argue moral turpitude, deportation, drug trafficking in Myerowitz Barbie case

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The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law held the final round of the 53rd annual Morris Brown Myerowitz Moot Court Competition on March 13.  

Four finalists, Samantha Bingaman ’25, Theodore Davis ’25, Austin Reed ’25, and Rishi Shah ’25 argued the fictional case Barbie Handler v. Department of Homeland Security. The facts of the case surrounded Barbie’s crossing state lines with a little more than 5 ounces of marijuana to sell during girls' night at her Dream House. While the summary was comical, the issues of “moral turpitude,” deportation, and drug trafficking were deadly serious. 

With deep knowledge of case law reflecting intense preparation, students made cases for the petitioner and respondent before some of Maryland’s very real jurists. 

The panel included the Hon. Kathryn Grill Graeff ’86, judge, Appellate Court of Maryland; the Hon. Matthew Maddox, judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland; and the Hon. Andre Davis ’78, judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (ret.). 

In her welcoming remarks, Maryland Carey Law Dean Renée McDonald Hutchins introduced the judges, pointing out that Judge Davis, who served as chief judge at the competition, was the Myerowitz best oralist when he was a law student in the late 1970s. 

Before announcing the winners, the judicial panel praised the competitors for their preparation and nimble responses to questions during their arguments. “You mastered the subject matter,” said Judge Davis. “As far as I’m concerned, you are all winners.” 

The coveted best oralist award went to Samantha Bingaman, with runner-up best oralist Rishi Shah. Theodore David received the best brief award, with runner-up Samantha Bingaman.  

Bingaman, who plans to practice environmental law, appreciated the opportunity the Myerowitz competition gave her to develop important skills. 

"I feel very rewarded. It was a lot of work,” said the best oralist. “Extracurriculars like this are really a key to becoming an advocator, becoming a litigator, even becoming a transactional attorney who might not be litigating all the time. It’s just good to be confident and learn how to orate and speak in front of people.” 

The Myerowitz competition is named for Morris Brown Myerowitz ’68, who died tragically two years after graduation. Members of the Myerowitz family created the competition to honor its namesake’s sharp intellect, academic success, and zest for life. Now a treasured tradition at Maryland Carey Law, the competition attracts alumni, students, faculty, staff, and members of the legal community. Finalists have traditionally been top candidates for highly competitive clerkships.