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The Poison Ivy League Part 53-Conquering Maine

May 3, 2011

Having lost two out of their initial three rounds, Kimel and Scott enjoyed relatively easy draws on Saturday and managed to just sneak into the break after successfully opposing the case that a doctor who discovered his daughter’s boyfriend had AIDS should leak the confidential information. In quarter-finals, they were paired against a team of infrequent debaters from Bates. Unsure at first who their opponents were, they eventually discovered that it was the same pair of young competitors to whom they’d lost the previous day. “I think that we’re hitting those fools again,” Scott observed rather more loudly than he intended to, horrifying a good number of members on the opposing team.

Kimel decided to experiment on his adversaries with a new weapon, a lethal bludgeon adapted from Livia and Tiberius’s arsenal. In their heyday, Yale A had won some notoriety for their case advocating the legalization of champerty. The obscure term refers to the sharing of the proceeds of a successful lawsuit by its winner and a potentially anonymous third party who paid for the expenses of the trial. Its legalization would likely lead to a competitive market in lawsuits, with corporations investing in those cases most likely to result in profits. While the ramifications of the proposal seem extreme, it’s difficult to argue against the fact that the creation of such a free market might help impoverished individuals to bring deserving cases to court. The illegality of barratry would diminish the possibility of frivolous law suits. After a lengthy online conversation about the case with Tiberius, Kimel decided to broaden the concept and argue that all forms of legal maintenance, of which champerty was only a subset, should be permitted. After all, in many legal systems, an individual can only contribute to the expenses of a trial if he or she has a specific interest in the facts of the case—the total legalization of maintenance would mean that anyone could pay for anyone’s legal fees, whether for a chance at profits or for more altruistic purposes. Overall, the case was a nasty and boring one far removed from all of Kimel’s areas of interest other than conquest. Keeping it secret, he hoped to wield it in the future in important rounds against other people from Harvard, since his teammates already knew most of his other cases. Little did he know that this plan would soon lead to melodramatic consequences, bringing tensions in Cambridge beyond the boiling point and permanently ruining friendships.

After unceremoniously slaughtering Bates, Kimel and Scott now found themselves against another team from the same school, the very pair to whom they’d lost in semi-finals of the previous year’s Clark tournament. They capably avenged themselves on Opposition after their rivals ran the same case about ICBMs that they’d just presented in quarter-finals, though this kind of repetition at the same tournament was taboo on APDA. On Opposition again in finals, Kimel and Scott went on to defeat Stanford and win the tournament, arguing that “truth and reconciliation committees” should not be used to heal animosities between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. Why would something which failed so miserably in sub-Saharan Africa, they asked, work any better in the volatile context of the Middle East? Thrilled to have won a tournament with his best friend, Kimel returned to Cambridge in high spirits, particularly since he was also awarded a first place speaker award despite his 3-2 performance in in-rounds. This cemented his position as the only speaker from Harvard in the top ten SOTY (Speaker of the Year) race. Unfortunately, since he wasn’t partnered with Jason, his victory had no impact on the TOTY competition.

Kimel’s pleasure quickly turned to apprehension when he was told that Lepidus and Antony had won the same weekend’s William and Mary tournament against Piso and Plancinus. Learning on the grapevine that the final round was extremely close, Kimel could hardly believe that Crassus and Pompey would willingly pave the way for Johns Hopkins to potentially overtake them, since this victory propelled them toward the front of the TOTY board. (He learned in retrospect that Crassus, at least, recognized the danger.) William and Mary were promptly rewarded for their good-sportsmanship when they failed to even break at the following week’s Princeton tournament, one of the largest of the year at 94 teams, just as Harvard A had faltered at Fordham and Johns Hopkins at MIT. Since Crassus and Antonina were APDA’s golden couple, this showing at Princeton was all the more unexpected.

Princeton’s tournament is always a prestigious event. Readers will recall that in the 2002-2003 season, Yale B effectively conceded the TOTY race when they failed to break there, Germanicus and Atticus gallantly refusing to allow the results of the few small competitions that remained before Nationals to determine who would take home the honor. Even if a similar impulse lay buried somewhere in the minds of any of the new TOTY competitors, Princeton was no longer the last major tournament of the year, since it was only late February and Yale was scheduled to be held exactly one month later. In the eyes of the APDA community, the TOTY race was thus still very much on. Ultimately, the results of Princeton served to make it the closest and most ruthless scramble in the circuit’s history.

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