Yeshesvini Chandar, 2L, tackled questions about the news media’s ability to gather information on the way to winning the 12th Annual First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition presented by the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law.
Yeshesvini teamed up with Brendon Khan, a student at St. John’s University School of Law, to research and write a brief examining whether the First Amendment affords news gatherers a right of access to prisons. The duo argued for a right of access for an audiovisual recording of an inmate interview conducted inside prison walls, as well as access to footage of a sleeping guard at the prison’s entrance captured from a publicly accessible sidewalk.
The team’s brief earned them a trip to Austin, Texas to present oral arguments at the Annual ABA Media Law Conference, where Yeshesvini and Khan went on to win two of three awards at the moot court competition – Best Brief Overall and Best Team.
During the final round, they argued in front of an esteemed bench: Honorable Bridget McCormack, Chief Justice Michigan Supreme Court; the Honorable Eva Guzman, Texas Supreme Court; and the Honorable Carlton Reeves, Southern District of Mississippi.
“Starting off as complete novices, this was an awesome learning experience where we taught ourselves First Amendment while learning a little bit about oral advocacy,” she said.
The team’s success, Yeshesvini noted, came about thanks to a lot of help and support. Yeshesvini’s mentor, Michael Berry, a partner at the top-ranked media law firm, Ballard Spahr, LLP, provided tremendous guidance. As did the Kline School of Law community.
“I was coached at school by numerous faculty who took time out and helped me learn the substantive law and polish my presentation,” Yeshesvini said.
Some friends jumped in to moot and encourage Chandar during some particularly challenging dry runs, too. “Jacqueline DiColo, Taylor Reeves and Olivia Hester mooted with me for several hours and endured me being lousy in the practice runs.”
Thanks to lots of hard work and help from peers, Yeshesvini shined when it mattered most.