Students Argue Before Utah Court of Appeals

By Maren Hendricks November 30, 2023

BYU Law students became real-world appellate advocates before the Utah Court of Appeals in a special argument session in BYU Law’s Moot Courtroom on November 15, 2023. The four-judge panel included BYU Law graduates David N. Mortensen, ’93, John D. Luthy, ’00, and Ryan D. Tenney, ’03, as well as Amy J. Oliver. Oral arguments included two criminal law appeals. The first case raised the improper admission of character and hearsay evidence and the second case objected to a stream of questions that led a witness to invoke her privilege against self-incrimination nearly 50 times before the jury.

Jaden Steeves, Paige Skousen, Ryder Seamons, and Becca Barker, all 3L BYU Law Trial Advocacy Team members, were prepared and poised. Each clearly presented arguments and impressed the Court as they were peppered with questions. Judge Tenney lauded the students’ briefs and oral advocacy.

Afterward, the judges shared advice for future trial attorneys. First on their wish list: “Answer the question! Even if it’s not to your advantage.” Judge Luthy emphasized that briefs are more important than oral argument: “We arrive leaning.” He urged students to master the law and the record so they are prepared to engage in a conversation at oral argument rather than delivering prepared statements. Judge Tenney agreed, observing that “the podium can create tunnel vision.” No tunnel vision for BYU Law students today – they were exemplary.