A team of three North­eastern law stu­dents were awarded second place at the 17th Annual National Health Law Moot Court com­pe­ti­tion in southern Illi­nois. It was the first time a team from North­eastern par­tic­i­pated in the con­test, which involved 34 teams from 25 law schools across the country.

The stu­dents, iden­tical twins Debbie and Cristina Fre­itas of Methuen and Katherine Scar­bor­ough of Somerville, are second-​​year law stu­dents pur­suing dual juris doctor and master’s of public health degrees from Northeastern’s School of Law and Tufts Uni­ver­sity School of Medicine.

They worked together on the project for three months, cre­ating the brief in the first seven weeks, then preparing their argu­ment. Two pro­fes­sors – North­eastern law pro­fessor Wendy Parmet and Tufts public health pro­fessor Marcia Boumil – coached the students.

As part of the com­pe­ti­tion, the team suc­cess­fully argued both sides of a fic­ti­tious case involving the con­sti­tu­tion­ality of statute that cre­ated a process for a hos­pital to with­draw life-​​sustaining treat­ment for an elderly patient against the wishes of the patient and her family.

The com­pe­ti­tion was tough, and we didn’t go into this knowing exactly what to expect,” said Cristina Fre­itas. “As a team, we worked really hard and we are very happy that our work paid off.”

The stu­dents were judged on legal briefs and oral argu­ments that they pre­sented to a panel of judges. The judges for the final round of com­pe­ti­tion were Michael P. McCuskey, chief judge, U.S. Dis­trict Court for the Cen­tral Dis­trict of Illi­nois; Ronald A. Guzman, dis­trict judge, U.S. Dis­trict Court for the Northern Dis­trict of Illi­nois; Thad­deus M. Pope, asso­ciate pro­fessor and member of the Health Law Insti­tute at Widener Uni­ver­sity School of Law; and Michael Raskin, pres­i­dent of the Amer­ican Col­lege of Legal Medicine.

For fin­ishing second, the team mem­bers were awarded a $750 schol­ar­ship.
The law school’s Center for Health Law and Policy, the School of Medicine’s Depart­ment of Med­ical Human­i­ties, the Amer­ican Col­lege of Legal Med­i­cine, and the Amer­ican Col­lege of Legal Med­i­cine Foun­da­tion co-​​sponsored the event.

Chicago-​​Kent Law School won first place. No other law school in Boston placed in the competition.

Debbie Fre­itas, right,and her iden­tical twin Cristina, bothof Methuen, and Katherine Scar­bor­ough, of Somerville, placed second in a national health law moot court com­pe­ti­tion held at Southern Illi­nois Uni­ver­sity, Car­bon­dale. (Photo by Lauren McFalls)