This award requires university nomination or interview and cannot be applied to directly. Students must work with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships and meet university deadlines.
The Benjamin and David Scharps Memorial Award was established in the will of Hannah S. Hirschhorn in honor of her brothers, Benjamin and David Scharps who were attorneys. The gift for the award was accepted by the SUNY Board of Trustees in 1974. The funds have been used to award juniors or seniors who are prelaw or have an interest in legal studies. As per the bequest, the prize is awarded to a student who writes the best legal essay on the subject determined by the chancellor or designee.
First prize is $1,500, second prize is $1,000.
March 18, 2020
Complete application cover sheet and submit a 2,000 word essay on topic selected by SUNY. Submission must be in standard essay format. Endnotes and footnotes are acceptable. No pictures or illustrations are to be included.
This is a closed-universe essay question, meaning that only the facts as they are written, and the authorities provided, should be considered when you prepare a response to the essay question posed.
The facts presented should be considered as undisputed. In your analysis, you must accept the facts as-is, meaning you must take them exactly as they are written. You are not permitted to make up any facts that are not provided in the record, or make any assumptions based on the facts as they are presented.
While completing this essay task, you should refrain from looking to any other sources for information. Additional outside research may interfere with completing the task as instructed, which is to analyze and evaluate the issues presented and to draw a legal conclusion using only the sources cited in the authority. Additionally, you are not permitted to cite from any authority other than the law and cases provided in the ‘authorities’ sections. This means you cannot use or rely on newspaper articles, law review articles, or any other sources which you believe are be relevant to the question presented. The purpose of prohibiting other sources in your analysis is to see how effectively you are able to craft a legal argument using only the sources of information provided to you.
Additionally, outside sources may lead you believe there is a right or wrong answer. However, for purposes of this essay, there is no right or wrong conclusion to each of the questions posed, and your essay will not be evaluated based on the conclusion you reach. Instead, your essay will be evaluated based upon your analysis that leads to your conclusion in each of the three issues. Therefore, you should attempt to compare the facts of the cases provided in the authority to the facts of the instant case as a persuasive tool to reason why the court should decide one way or another.
Your essay should be 2,000 words or less.
Your essay will be judged based upon how effectively you’ve articulated the law and court cases, and applied them to the fact pattern provided to reach a conclusion. You will be evaluated based upon how well you articulate the law, and the reasoning you offer to support your conclusions for each issue. Please be sure to include any proper citations when citing a law or a case, as you will be evaluated on your ability to attribute a particular law or reasoning to a source.
On the night of June 14, 2019, 20-year-old Christopher Rand, a junior at Catskill State College, a public university in New York State, parked his truck in the grocery store parking lot directly adjacent to the campus in the rural town of Blueport. He suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and passed away.
At the time Rand took his own life, 21-year-old Hilary Hyek was in her dorm room, nearly 150 miles away, at Green River State Technical College, another public university in New York State. The friendship between Rand and Hyek began in February 2017, when they both attended a regional speech and debate tournament in New Lemon, Connecticut. After returning to New York, the couple shared a long-distance relationship, primarily through texts and calls. Living in different towns, they rarely spent time together in person.
Throughout their relationship, Rand struggled with mental health issues, including receiving treatment for mental health issues since 2015, before he met Hyek. Rand continually talked about suicide, and a subsequent search of his computer indicated that he conducted extensive research about how to commit suicide. Further, on multiple occasions prior to beginning his relationship with Hyek, Rand attempted suicide, including twice after his parents divorced in December 2014, again in June 2018, and in early June 2019, less than one week before his death. Throughout their two year relationship, Hyek persistently but unsuccessfully urged Rand to seek professional help for his mental illness. She also repeatedly asked Rand to drop out of school with her and elope to the Pacific Northwest to fulfill her plans of opening a coffee shop together; Rand consistently rebuffed her requests.
About one month before Rand took his own life, Hyek sought inpatient treatment for an eating disorder. She urged Rand to join her in the hospital, but he refused. After Hyek returned to campus from the hospital, her attitude changed and she began a systematic campaign to convince Rand to go through with his suicide plan. Exclusively through text messaging, Hyek helped Rand plan his suicide, downplayed his fears about his family, and chastised him for his indecision and delay. Specifically, Hyek repeatedly texted him “You just have to do it.”
On the day of Rand’s death, the couple exchanged their last text message shortly before Rand left his weekly debate practice in the Humanities building on the Catskill campus. Phone records indicate that, later in the evening, Rand called Hyek, and then Hyek called Rand. Both calls lasted about 45 minutes. No contemporaneous evidence reveals what was said during these calls. Although Hyek later claimed, in texts to her friends Millie Friedman and Danielle Boaz, that she was on the phone with Rand when he died. Additionally, she told her friends that Rand “got out of the truck, seeking fresh air,” and that she “instructed him to get back in,” and that Rand complied. Call logs indicate that after Rand got back in the truck, Hyek failed to call 911, contact his family, or tell him to get out.
Three weeks later, in a rambling text to a friend, Hyek claimed that Rand had gotten out of his truck and that she had told him to “get back in.” At her criminal trial, Hyek was indicted for the wanton and reckless behavior that culminated in the voluntary manslaughter of Rand, under New York’s State Manslaughter Law section 991.
During the trial, Hyek argued that SML section 991 violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Catskill County’s prosecutor’s office seeks to dismiss Hyek’s motion, arguing that the law does not conflict with the First and Fifth Amendments, and since it fails to show a violation of the Constitution, her claim is meritless.
You are a law clerk for the judge who has been assigned this case. The judge has asked you to draft a memo advising her on constitutional arguments presented in the case.
You may consider the following sources:
A UB campus committee that includes faculty with legal backgrounds will select the top three essays which will then be submitted to compete at the SUNY level.
|Year||Name||Award||Field(s) of Study||Hometown|
|2020||Timothy Allaire||Recipient||Political Science||Silver Creek, NY|
|2018||Joseph Wolf ||Recipient||Social Science Interdisciplinary||Getzville, NY|
|2018||Ethan Wolfson||Second Place ||English|
|2017||Brittany Herbert||Second Place||Social Science Interdisciplinary and African American Studies|