December 10, 2008
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, both of 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)