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Internet Threats Against U.S. President To Be Argued During Student Tournament

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More than 100 college students will put their lawyering skills to the test Friday, Dec. 2, when they defend or argue against the legality of shutting down a chat room where threats to the U.S. president were made.

It's a hypothetical case that is at the center of the South Atlantic Regional Undergraduate Moot Court Qualifying Tournament, which will be judged by more than 75 local judges and attorneys. The tournament will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at UCF's main campus in Orlando and from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Seminole State-UCF Partnership Center in Sanford.

The students will argue whether or not threats against the president made on the Internet are protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They also will argue whether or not the U.S. Government's seizure of the chat room records is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The judges will assess the students' ability to present oral arguments in favor of their position.

The tournament is the only one of its kind in the southeastern United States, according to Jim Beckman, chair of the Department of Legal Studies at UCF and the tournament coordinator.

"This type of competition is usually reserved for law students," Beckman explained. "So it's a great opportunity for undergraduates, regardless of their major or professional goal, to learn the art of advocacy in a professional setting."

Competing particularly helps students sharpen their writing skills, polish their oral presentation skills and think critically on their feet, he added.

Fifty-two teams of two students each will argue their positions during the two-day tournament. The students come from 13 colleges and universities around the country, including the U.S. Air Force Academy and the College of the Holy Cross.

The top 12 teams will go on to compete in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association's national tournament in California in January 2012.

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