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Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 9:20 p.m.

Sotomayor to law students: ‘You give me hope’

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor hears a moot court case presented by four GW Law School students. Jordan Leon | Hatchet Photographer

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor hears a moot court case presented by four GW Law School students. Jordan Leon | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Eva Palmer.

As four law students took the stage to debate the legality of drones Thursday, they had to make their case in front of more than 1,000 students as well as one of the nation’s top jurists.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the latest legal scholar to preside over the law school’s annual Moot Court in Lisner Auditorium. The case involved the use of drones to take photos and GPS tracking on a mobile phone.

Third-year students James Gross and Kyle Singhal, who represented the U.S., won the case.

Sotomayor, who was one of three judges, congratulated all four students for their dedication to the field of law.

“You give me hope about the future of our profession. You keep me inspired to do what I’m doing, because I know that there are young people following who have the same passion and excitement and love of skill that I do, and that’s the hope you give me,” Sotomayor said.

She was joined on the bench by Judge Robert Katzmann, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, and Judge Lee Rosenthal, district judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

In past years, Supreme Court justices included John Roberts, Elena Kagan and Samuel Alito have presided over the moot court competition, which is the longest-running of its kind in the country.

The participants made it to the final round of the competition after spending months honing their arguments. Gross, the editor-in-chief of the GW Law Review, also won the moot competition for first-year students in 2012, and Singhal, who is also a member of the review, was named the best oralist in a national moot court competition last year.

Later, Sotomayor joined University President Steven Knapp at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics. The clinics provide free legal service to those in need, such as victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, and give law students hands-on experience in court.

Sotomayor touted the importance of pro bono work for those seeking their law degrees.

“Law is about service,” she said. “Now you have a home befitting of your efforts.”

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