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Bar News - November 15, 2013


UNH Law Moot Court Program Previews ‘COPSLIE’ Case

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Nixon Peabody attorney and UNH Law alum Anthony Galdieri practices his amicus argument before a moot court at the UNH School of Law on Oct. 29. Galdieri represented the NHCLU in oral arguments before the NH Supreme Court on Nov. 7, in a case that challenges a state law restricting vanity license plates on First Amendment grounds.
Preparing for his first appearance before the New Hampshire Supreme Court, Anthony Galdieri practiced his amicus argument on a moot court panel at UNH Law last month before an audience of more than 50 law students.

Representing the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, Galdieri, a lawyer at Nixon Peabody, was scheduled to argue before the Supreme Court on Nov. 7, challenging a state law restricting certain messages on vanity license plates.

Galdieri took advantage of a new resource at UNH School of Law, the UNH Attorney Mooting Program. The law school invites any bar member with an appellate argument coming up to inquire about scheduling a moot court session.

At Galdieri’s moot court session Oct. 29, the panel of volunteer judges featured law school dean John Broderick, reprising his former role as chief justice of the NH Supreme Court. Galdieri had the opportunity to test his argument that the state law on vanity plates is vague, overbroad and violates the First Amendment.

The case of David Montenegro, who has legally changed his name to “human,” concerns his application to the NH Division of Motor Vehicles for the vanity license plate “COPSLIE.” The application was denied, but a later request for the plate “GR8GOVT” was allowed. Human, who is representing himself in the case, has said he made the second request to show that the original rejection wasn’t “viewpoint neutral.” A trial judge upheld the rejection and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court last spring.

Broderick, known as a lively questioner during his days on the court, returned to true form, firing a list of hypothetical license plate phrases such as “KILLKIDS” at Galdieri in an effort to poke holes in his argument. Galdieri kept calm, answering each question and sprinkling his argument with relevant case law from across the country. He suggested that state law should include a more comprehensive list of subject matter that can’t be displayed on license plates, which the moot judges felt was not a practical approach.

“Complying with the First Amendment is not necessarily easy or efficient,” Galdieri replied.

When he finished his argument, the moot judges discussed his performance.

“Style-wise, I thought you were terrific,” said Seth Aframe, an assistant US attorney and adjunct professor in First Amendment Law at UNH Law. “You were nimble with all the facts, and you used the cases without boring us.”

Broderick suggested that Galdieri be cautious about becoming bogged down in hypotheticals. Attorney Emily Rice who works at Berstein Shur, who also served as a justice in the moot court exercise and who had Galideri as a student in the Daniel Webster Scholars Program, advised him on tactics, including not distancing himself from the plaintiff.

“Instead of saying, ‘The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union takes the position that…,’ just say ‘we,’” she said.

Also serving on the moot court panel were UNH Law Prof. John Greabe and Gilles Bissonnette of the NHCLU.

The moot court session was the second since the UNH School of Law started its UNH Attorney Mooting Program last spring. Brian Shaughnessy practiced the oral argument he gave before the United States Supreme Court in March. Attorneys interested in practicing their arguments under “live fire” are encouraged to contact associate professor Jesssica Durkis-Stokes about participating in the mooting program. She can be reached at jessica.durkis-stokes@law.unh.edu or (603) 513-5120.

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