Four of the six Cal State Fullerton teams competing at the American Collegiate Moot Court Association's national tournament brought home awards this past January.
The competition took place in St. Petersburg, Florida at the Stetson College of Law, where 80 teams from 55 universities from across the United States converged to take part in written and oral argument contests.
In the oral argument portion, CSUF's team wound up in a tie in each of the preliminary rounds. This, unfortunately, was not enough to proceed to the elimination rounds. "It was frustrating, but moot court is not just about learning to win, it’s also about learning how to cope with losing, gracefully" Pamela Fiber-Ostrow, Moot Court coach and associate professor of political science, said.
The brief writing portion of the tournament features a series of questions to which contestants submit 2 possible entries: Petitioner briefs and Respondent briefs.
This year's case asked the following questions of student advocates:
- Did a strict Voter ID law passed by the (hypothetical) state of Olympus to curb voter fraud cause an injury in fact to warrant standing for a woman who had changed her name immediately preceding the election?
- Did the law violate the right to freedom of expression as protected in the First Amendment?
- Did the law violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection and due process guarantees?
Each of CSUF's 6 teams submitted briefs - 3 for petitioner and 3 for respondent, yielding an amazing 4 awards!
- 8th place to Olivia Medina (American studies major) and Hilda Kajbaf (American studies/political science double major) for petitioner brief
- 5th place to Nathan Guerrero (political science major) and Shelby Moore (political science major)for the petitioner brief
- 4th place to Anthony Co (psychology major) and Andres Marin (English major) for respondent brief
- 1st place to Melissa Massey (communications major) and Megan Potl (criminal justice major) for petitioner brief
"When I found out that I had won the petitioner brief I was shocked, ecstatic, and speechless all at the same time. Seeing my hard work pay off was such an amazing feeling. The case was complex and challenging, but it was something I was really interested in especially being a presidential election year." Melissa Massey, communications major, said.
Moot Court is a simulation of an appellate court proceeding (also known as mock Supreme Court and Supreme Court Simulation). Moot Court involves teams of student-contestants, clients burdened by a legal problem, briefs and oratory detailing the dimensions of the legal problem before an appellate court.
Students argue a hypothetical legal case known as "the competition case." To do so, students must research the cases and laws cited in "the competition case." Moot court judges ask students questions and grade the students on the basis of their knowledge of the case, their response to questioning, their forensic skills, and their demeanor.
Oral argument lasts 40 minutes (each side gets 20 minutes) and each student is expected to speak for a minimum of 7 minutes. Judges usually consist of attorneys, law faculty, or, on occasion, members of the judicial branch of government.