Moot Court Team Earns High Marks

Cal State Fullerton’s moot court team had a successful showing at this year’s Western Regional Tournament at Westwood College in Anaheim on November 20th and 21st, 2015.

Moot Court is a simulation of an appellate court proceeding (also known as “Mock Supreme Court”.) Teams consist of 2 student-contestants who must argue a hypothetical legal case to a panel of judges that typically contains attorneys, law faculty, and occasionally members of the judicial branch of government.

CSUF Moot Court Participants

In the oral arguments, 2 teams face off in a 40-minute head-to-head competition. Each team is allowed 20 minutes, and each team-member must speak for at least 7 minutes. During this time, judges ask students questions and grade them on the basis of their case knowledge, response to questioning, forensic skills, and demeanor.

The Case

This year’s hypothetical “competition case” imagined a scenario in which congress has passed a law forbidding any university operating in the United States from admitting ANY undocumented student after January 1, 2015. The state of Olympus allows undocumented Dreamers to enroll and to pay in state tuition! Moreover, Kedesh College a private religious university as part of its religious observance admits undocumented students. ARH, a student who graduated high school in Olympus is now precluded from attending Kedesh College even though they were prepared to enroll her and provide a scholarship!

The questions posed before the court were:

  1. Does Congress’ Fair Education Act violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of Kedesh College?
  2. Does the Fair Education Act violate ARH’s rights to Equal Protection of the Law as applied through the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution?
"The education of undocumented persons is extremely relevant for the current generation of college students, and for many of us close to home. We all know friends and family that would be directly affected by cases like ours. It was great to work on such an important issue."

- Taylor Needham

The team huddles together post-tournament

The Results

In total, 40 teams from 15 different universities participated. CSUF brought 7 teams to the tournament, along with 2 additional students who competed on hybrid teams alongside students from other universities.

Amazingly, all 7 CSUF teams advanced out of the preliminary rounds. Inevitably, this success could not last as CSUF teams were forced to face one another in both the sweet-sixteen, quarterfinal and semi-final rounds.

In the final round CSUF’s Chris Hon & Jamie Butts faced a team from Patrick Henry College. The judges claimed that they had never seen such an amazing round! Unfortunately, in the end the final tally was CSUF 1, PHC 2.

Nevertheless, the tournament was a hugely successful outing for our moot court team as evidenced by both team results and individual accolades.

Team Results

  • All 7 teams advanced out of preliminary round to the sweet-sixteen round.


  • Erica Phillips & Michelle Viorato


  • Kelsey Brewer & Taylor Needham


  • Chris Hon & Jamie Butts

Teams earning automatic bids to the national tournament

  • Erica Phillips & Michelle Viorato
  • Chris Hon & Jamie Butts
  • Kelsey Brewer & Taylor Needham
  • Dakota Durrego-Mealey & Carlos Ibara
Two "Top Orator" award winners - Carlos Ibarra and Dakota Durrego-Mealey

Individual Results

6 participants earned “speaker awards”, 4 of which were in the top 10! Below is a list of the individual speaker awards along with their placing.

(3) Dakota Durrego-Mealey

(5) Celina Bontigao

(6) Carlos Ibarra

(8) Michelle Viorato

(11) Erica Phillips

(17) Taylor Needham

Perhaps most impressive is that the majority of our participants were first-time moot court competitors (most universities teams consist of repeat competitors), and many are first generation college students.

"After several months of working with my colleagues in perfecting our speaking styles and arguments, it came as no surprise to see that so many of us were recognized for our hard work and that more than half of us were given bids to nationals. The competition itself was a rewarding opportunity that helped me realize the value in the entire team’s dedication and commitment to the program this semester."

- Michelle Viorato

We hope that you’ll join us in congratulating all of the moot court teams that participated. They did a truly excellent job… and there is no arguing that.

List of all CSUF Participants

  • Chris Hon (Senior Music) & Jamie Butts (Senior Political Science and Women's Studies)
  • Kelsey Brewer (Senior Political Science) & Taylor Needham (Senior Criminal Justice)
  • Erica Phillips (Senior Criminal Justice) & Michelle Viorato (Senior Political Science)
  • Dakota Durrego-Mealey (Senior Political Science) & Carlos Ibara (Senior Sociology)
  • Wendy Chang (Senior Political Science) & Veronica Patel (Sophomore Criminal Justice and Political Science)
  • Soheil Tabatabai (Senior Political Science) & Matheus Gubel (Senior Criminal Justice)
  • Celina Bontigao (Senior Political Science and Japanese) & Gelane Diamond (Sophomore History)
  • Melanie Therrien (Senior Political Science) HYBRID with University of Tampa
  • Victoria Andrade-Mckeehan (Senior Criminal Justice) HYBRID with Mt. St. Mary’s
Created By
Christopher Salomone

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