Moot Court Team Places 2nd in National Tournament

Alyssa Hanisch, Seth Lopour, and Ashley Brost participated in the Leroy Hassell, Sr. National Constitutional Law Moot Court Tournament October 14th-15th in Virginia Beach. Law school students from around the nation participate in this competition and receive key insights from distinguished judges, attorneys, and professors to improve their oral and written advocacy skills. The USD Moot Court Team placed second overall!


Alyssa Hanisch (2L), Seth Lopour (3L), & Ashley Brost (3L)

In the final round, the team faced a seven-judge panel, including justices from the Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Virginia Supreme Courts. Professor Hannah Haksgaard accompanied the team and will now be traveling with all teams to all tournaments.

If you are interested in learning more about Moot Court, stop by the Moot Court Offices at USD School of Law.


USD Law Student Emma Otterpohl ’18 Selected as Member of Rural Summer Legal Corps

Emma Otterpohl, rising third year law student at the University of South Dakota School of Law, was selected as one of only thirty law students nation-wide to serve as a member of Equal Justice Works’ 2017 Rural Summer Legal Corps. Emma will serve clients through Iowa Legal Aid over the summer, receiving a $5,000 stipend to fund her service. The Rural Summer Legal Corps connects public interest law students with civil legal aid organizations to address pressing legal issues facing rural communities.

Emma joins 29 other public interest law students in addressing pressing legal issues facing rural communities in the areas of housing, domestic violence, public benefits, migrant farmworkers, Native American law, and family law. Specifically, Emma will provide services to low-income and elderly Iowans with legal issues such as housing, employment, and family law, among others. As part of her service, she will draft pleadings, conduct legal research, and accompany attorneys to court hearings.

Last week, Emma attended the official kick-off of this year’s Rural Summer Legal Corps in Washington, DC, at the joint training hosted by Equal Justice Works and the Legal Services Corporation. The students traveled to Martinsburg, West Virginia to gain first-hand experience and training on the unique challenges and benefits of working with legal clients in a rural setting. After their intensive training from experts in fields affecting rural law, the law students will return directly to their host site to continue their work at their rural placements.

Emma Otterpohl Rural Summer Legal Corps 2017-06

USD Law Student Emma Otterpohl ’18 (back row sixth) is one of only 30 law students selected nation-wide to participate in Equal Justice Works’ Rural Summer Legal Corps program, 2017.

USD Law Prof. Baron’s Subrogation Article Cited by Hawai’i Supreme Court

University of South Dakota School of Law Professor Emeritus Roger Baron was cited by the Hawai’i Supreme Court in YUKUMOTO v. TAWARAHARA (2017 WL 2303528), an opinion handed down this past Friday, May 26, 2017.  The decision resolved an issue of first impression concerning the ability of a health insurer to be subrogated against third-party tortfeasors.   This opinion cites other authorities in support of its ruling, but Prof. Baron’s 1996 subrogation article published in the South Dakota Law Review is the first secondary (non-judicial) authority cited in the opinion.


USD Law Professor Emeritus Roger Baron

This case presented the Hawai’i Supreme Court with its first opportunity to address the Hawai’i legislature’s statute addressing subrogation by a health insurer.  Under the new statute, subrogation is limited and, in some cases, prohibited altogether.  In this case the tort plaintiff was catastrophically injured while riding a moped in Honolulu.  The trial court denied recovery to the health insurer and the Hawai’i Supreme Court affirmed.  This opinion rejects the assertion that the health insurer has superior rights based upon contract and based upon equity.

The citation to Professor Baron’s article is found in the Court’s initial discussion and is reproduced here:

Subrogation is a “creature of equity,” and is premised on the notion that an insured should not be able to “unduly benefit from a loss and thereby enjoy a ‘double recovery’ from both the insurer and the tortfeasor.” St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 135 Hawai‘i 449, 452, 353 P.3d 991, 994 (2015); Roger Baron, Subrogation: A Pandora’s Box Awaiting Closure, 41 S.D. L. Rev. 237, 241 (1996);

The Hawai’i Supreme Court joins a growing list of courts that have cited this South Dakota Law Review article authored by Professor Emeritus Roger Baron.  This same article  has been cited by the Alabama Supreme Court, Alabama Civil Court of Appeals, California Appellate Court, Nebraska Federal District Court, New Jersey Supreme Court, New Jersey Appellate Court, New Jersey Superior Court, New Jersey Federal District Court, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court (dissenting opinion), Puerto Rico Supreme Court (opinion in Spanish) and the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

By Marie H. Ruettgers, Partner and Managing Attorney at Goosmann Law Firm, PLC of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

USD Law Represents at Junior Visit Day

The University of South Dakota is excited to welcome all the visiting junior high school students from across the region today. Liz Taggart, Director of Admissions for USD School of Law, is tabling in the Muenster University Center hoping to inform prospective students about the Law School’s 3+3 Fast Track Program. The 3+3 program allows qualified students from the College of Arts & Sciences to begin law school early as a senior and use the first year of law school to complete their bachelor’s degree. The program allows you to graduate with both a bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctor in six years rather than seven, saving time and money.

Students must maintain a minimum 3.25 GPA at USD during their undergraduate program, and must earn a 152 on the LSAT. They must also obtain a letter of recommendation from the chair of your department, attesting not only to your intellectual strengths, but to their maturity, work ethic and overall readiness for graduate school.

Interested students should stop by and meet Liz at the Law School table!


School of Law, Tabling in the MUC for Junior Visit Day

USD Law Bid Day Announcements

April 7th, 2017, was bid day at USD School of Law; a day where student organizations send out bids to prospective members to join. Gaining membership onto one of the University of South Dakota School of Law Board organizations is no easy task. Students must compete (e.g., “write-on,” Sam Masten Tournament, Client Counseling Competition, etc.), apply, and interview for the limited but highly sought after positions.

The Boards would like to announce their newest members-

The South Dakota Law Review:

  • Alayna Ackerman; Stacia Berg; Matthew De Jong; Derek Friese; Alexa Moeller; Nicholas Ramos; Erica Ramstad; and Jacquelyn Wilson.

The Moot Court Board:

  •  Lucas Elsbernd; Matt Lucklum; Tracy Miller; Hannah Purtell; Ben Selbo; Erin Willadsen; and Catherine Vietor.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Board:
  • Ryan Anderson; Whitney Denning; Candice Gullickson; Paige Petersen; Olivia Siglin; and Johnathan Stien.

Each group would like to congratulate their newest members and give many thanks to those who applied.

USD Law to Host Title IX Panel

Every university receiving federal funds is governed by Title IX, but very few students are able to articulate the policies and procedures regarding violations. In fact, many students believe Title IX to only effect athletics. In reality, the law applies to every single aspect of education, including course offerings, counseling and counseling materials, financial assistance, student health and insurance benefits and/or other services, housing, marital and parental status of students, physical education and athletics, education programs and activities, and employment.

What does a Title IX violation hearing look like? Can I bring an attorney to such a hearing? As an attorney, are your clients afforded all of the Due Process Rights as at similar hearings? Join us for a panel discussion to answer those questions and more surrounding Title IX.

  • WHEN: Monday, April 10th, 2017 5-7 P.M.
  • WHERE: USD School of Law Courtroom


  • Michelle Johnson, Ed.D., SDSU Title IX/EO Coordinator
  • David Herbster, Director of the USD Department of Athletics
  • Deborah Dodge, Director of USD Student Rights & Responsibilities

 Sponsored by Women In Law, Sports Law, BLSA, and OUTLaws

 Refreshments and a Taco Bar will be served after the panel.

*If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate, please contact Disability Services at least 48 hours prior to the event at 605-677-6389.

Title IX Panel Poster

USD Law Student Wins SGA Election

The Student Government Association (SGA) at the University of South Dakota recently welcomed its newest at-large representative, Lynae Tucker (Class of 2018).

As the liaison between students, administration, faculty and the South Dakota Board of Regents, Tucker will work to enhance communication, understanding and cooperation throughout the university.

As the SGA is largely responsible for allocation of money to student organizations, Tucker will help to expand cultural, recreational, educational and social opportunities outside of the classroom.


Congratulations to Lynae Tucker, at-large representative to the USD SGA!


USD Law Sam Masten Tournament: Jacquelyn Wilson Winner

The annual USD School of Law’s Sam Masten Moot Court Tournament concluded on March 27th, 2017, with the final round held in the USD School of Law courtroom. Named after Samuel W. Masten (USD Law ’46) a beloved litigator in South Dakota, the tournament consisted of thirty-two participating first-year law students presenting oral arguments in a hypothetical case, where each student had researched and prepared an appellate brief. Each first-year student then presented their arguments before volunteer judges including the Moot Court Board, alumni of USD School of Law, attorneys, judges and faculty.

Jacquelyn Wilson of Lemmon, South Dakota, became this year’s Sam Masten champion, narrowly defeating Kate Vietor, from Lennox, South Dakota. The final round was argued in the Law School Courtroom before members of the South Dakota Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, and state circuit court Judges.


Jacquelyn Wilson, final round arguments

“The Sam Masten tournament allows the first-year students to take what they have learned in the Fundamental Legal Skills course and apply it in a real-world setting,” said Branden Nethken, President of the Moot Court Board. “There are very few law schools in the nation in which first-year students get to present oral arguments before practicing lawyers, judges, and justices.”

Best Brief Awards were also given to Hannah Purtell and Tracy Miller.


Hannah Purtell, Professor Hess, Tracy Miller, Professor McKey

The Sioux Falls law firm of Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith hosted a reception, open to all students, faculty, staff and others who helped or participated, immediately following the final round.

Two USD Law Students Attend National Indian Law Moot Court Tournament at UCLA

The National Native American Law Student Association (NNALSA), in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law (UCLA) and the UCLA Chapter of NALSA, hosted the 25th Annual NNALSA Moot Court Competition on March 8th. The Moot Court Competition featured 64 teams from 30 schools from across the country. Jessica FourBear (3L) and Moreau FourBear (2L) represented the University of South Dakota School of Law as two of the 128 brilliant up-and-coming legal minds in Indian law.

At the tournament, prestigious Indian law attorneys, judges, and professors from around the nation volunteered to critique participants’ briefs and oral advocacy skills. These Moot Court participants traveled from every corner of the nation to compete.

vickery moreau

Dean & Professor of Law Emeritus Barry Vickery (left) and Moreau FourBear (right)

The Moot Court problem related to the Indian Reorganization Act and involved how the Secretary of the Interior inappropriately applied the act in placing Indian lands into trust. Moreau FourBear noted that the issue was multifaceted as it had administrative law aspects in tandem to the overarching Indian law issues. “We had to argue whether the Secretary had proper authority to place land in trust and whether the decision was arbitrary and capricious.”

The USD team received high marks for their off-brief, and notable comments from judges on their professionalism and mastery of the caselaw. Although they did not make it into the final rounds, Jessica FourBear said that, “We utilized every skill in advocacy taught by professors at USD–like Professors Horton, Hutton, Pommersheim, Hess, and McKey–and the judges were impressed. Unfortunately, our brief score was a bit lower than we needed to break the top 16.”

In order to prepare, the USD team spent a substantial amount of time researching their Moot Court problem and practicing their oral advocacy with USD professors. Dean & Professor of Law Emeritus Barry Vickery acted as the team’s coach and provided guidance to the team. However, as Vickery was in California, the team had to give practice oral arguments to Vickery over Skype. Professors of Law Hutton and Pommersheim also helped provide assistance by critiquing the team’s oral arguments in the formal courtroom setting.

FourBear j

Moreau FourBear (2L), Jessica FourBear (3L), Dean & Professor of Law Emeritus Vickery (far right)

Both Jessica and Moreau believed that the preparation and tournament itself was an almost overwhelming amount of work, but was worthwhile to receive high praise from their judges and compete against the best in the nation.

If any students are interested in attending the 26th NNALSA Moot Court Competition, please join the local USD NALSA group or speak with Jessica or Moreau FourBear for more information.



Law Students Bring Home 3rd Place Win in Regional Transactional Law

Four USD School of Law students participated in LawMeet National Transactional Tournaments on February 24th. USD Law sent two teams to compete in different Regional Tournaments.

Team 1: Branden Nethken (2L) and Ryan Redd (3L) competed in Dallas, Texas (Region 6 Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law).

And team 2: Anna Limoges (3L) and Britni Summers (2L) competed in Denver, Colorado (Region 7 University of Denver Sturm College of Law website).


Anna Limoges (left) Britni Summers (right)

Participants were judged by panels of experts from transactional law practices from across the nation. Decisions were reached on how each team most adeptly negotiated a draft of certain provisions of an agreement. These negotiations required students to combine numerous lawyering skills like drafting, marking-up, various negotiating techniques, in-depth knowledge of corporate law and other facets of business law to develop innovative solutions to a legal problem.

Anna Limoge and Brittni Summers took home third place in Region 7.

The National Transactional LawMeet is the premier “moot court” experience for students interested in a transactional practice. The National Transactional LawMeet is a part of the LawMeet family of live, interactive, educational competitions designed to give law students a hands-on experience in developing and honing transactional lawyering skills.

Recent Law Review Editor-in-Chief Now Associate Attorney in Neb.

Jacobsen, Orr, Lindstrom & Holbrook, P.C., L.L.O. of Kearney, Nebraska, recently announced the addition of Elizabeth Chrisp (J.D. 2015) as an associate attorney.


Liz Chrisp

Liz received her dual Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice and Political Science, with Honors, from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2010 and is a 2015 Sterling Honors graduate from the University of South Dakota School of Law, where she graduated second in her class. Liz is native to the Kearney area, having graduated from Elwood High School, and she currently resides in Amherst.

While in law school, Liz served as Editor-in-Chief of the South Dakota Law Review, competed in a national trial team tournament in Puerto Rico, and served as graduate assistant to the Dean and writing professors where she assisted in legal writing instruction and individually tutored first-year law students. She was the recipient of multiple academic and writing scholarships and twelve Deans Awards for Academic Achievement which are awarded to the student with the highest grade in each course.