The Creighton University School of Law’s “From Nuremberg to the Hague” (N2H) has been a regular study-abroad opportunity since its inception in July 2012. It culminates with the International Criminal Law Moot Court Competition in Nuremberg, Germany, with students, jurists and academics participating from more than 50 countries.
Saturday was the final competition, and Creighton did exceedingly well. John Bergstresser, a second-year law student and president of the law school’s International Law Society and LGBT Society, was awarded “best speaker” in the overall competition.
“I would not have gotten this award without the help from Scott Straus (JD’17) and Sascha Lüftner [of partner university Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg] who provided their time to help coach and provide us with tips,” Bergstresser said. “I certainly could not have done it without my co-counsel Patrick Brady’s support, nor could I have done it without the rest of the team: Katie Delmonico, Ellen Prochaska and Austin Davis.”
This year marked the first time Creighton participants had the opportunity to earn course credit for taking part in this moot court event. It was previously an optional component of the trip.
Straus, an assistant attorney general for the State of Nebraska’s civil litigation bureau, served as coach for Creighton’s 10 participants in this year’s N2H. They were joined on the trip by 18 participants from other universities around the world; Creighton was the only U.S. institution represented.
“I participated in the N2H program in 2015, after my first year of law school,” Straus said. “I have fond memories of competing in the moot competition … these students became my best friends throughout the remainder of law school and endure to this day.”
“When professor [Sean] Watts called me earlier this year and asked if I would be interested in teaching and coaching this year’s teams, I jumped at the chance as I love this program, this field of law and Creighton,” Straus said.
The two credit-hour course began with a component on Creighton’s campus that ran from mid-May until late June. Students were required to attend lectures, complete readings and actively participate in brief writing and oral argument preparation. Tryouts were held in the spring, as receiving course credit proved popular.
The resulting group of 10 Creighton law students was divided into two teams. There was Bergstresser’s team, as well as another one with Jackie Bossman, Pete Culpepper, Hans de Salas-del Valle, Lidia Osorio and Anthony Schneider.
“Creighton teams have always been a staple in this competition,” Straus said, “but this year we were the only two teams from the United States who had the opportunity and honor to compete.”
Patrick Brady, a second-year law student, said that as soon as he found out about N2H, he knew he’d be going, but what really sold him on the experience was the moot court competition at the end of it. “I’ve always had a passion for public speaking and being able to do what I love for class credit was a win-win,” he said.
Lidia Osorio, an accelerated JD student in her final year of law studies, said that the course credit in an already compacted law program prompted her to participate.
“I knew that this program would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I did everything I could to go—it was something I couldn’t pass up,” she said.
Bergstresser took best speaker honors for every round of the competition, in addition to winning best speaker overall. Bergstresser, who is hearing impaired, had two Ohio Supreme Court-certified sign language interpreters available during the competition. Osorio was named second best speaker for one of the rounds.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” Straus said.