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Will 13 Be Lucky Number For CSULB Moot Court Team?

Published: November 17, 2014

CSULB will host the 13th Annual American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) Western Regional competition on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 21-22, marking the 13th consecutive year the event has been held on campus.

The competition takes place on Friday, Nov. 21, in the University Student Union and in Health and Human Services 1 Building, and on Saturday, Nov. 22, in Peterson Hall 1 in the morning and Hall of Science in the afternoon. The event is free and open to the public. On Friday, the event will run from 5 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday, competition will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This year, 38 two-person teams, including six from CSULB, are expected to compete at the regional. Other institutions scheduled to participate include Carroll College (Montana), Fresno State, Cal State Fullerton, Mount St. Mary’s College, Patrick Henry College, Weber State University (Utah), University of Texas-Arlington, Whitman College (Washington), the University of Southern California and Westwood College.

The Western Regional has produced five national champions, more than any other regional. This includes a team from CSULB that captured the title in 2002-03. The regional has produced 12 national semifinalists, including six in the last three years.

Moot Court, also known as mock Supreme Court and Supreme Court Simulation, is a simulation of an appellate court proceeding. It 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, and the judging of performances by panels of law students, attorneys, professors, law faculty, or, on occasion, members of the judicial branch of government. Teams from colleges and universities throughout the nation will be arguing the same case.

This year’s hypothetical case asks whether a fictional law requiring that women seeking an abortion undergo a transvaginal ultra-sound procedure and limiting what physicians can tell their patients about the risks of abortion is constitutional?

Moot court teams’ combined oral argument must be 20 minutes with each member of the team presenting a minimum of seven minutes. Not knowing which viewpoint it will be presenting, each team should have the ability to support both arguments. Moot court judges ask students questions and grade them on the basis of their knowledge of the case, their response to questioning, their forensic skills and their demeanor.

CSULB students competing in the 2014 regional are Dillon Westfall, a senior Roman classics major from Atascadero; Ashley Hall, a senior political science major from Long Beach; Krist Biakanja, a senior political science major from Huntington Beach; Will Torres, a senior political science major from Glendale; Julieta Hernandez, a senior Chicano/Latino Studies and political science major from Long Beach; Michelle Manos, a senior political science major from Hackettstown, N.J.; Chris Nielson, a senior philosophy and political science major from Santa Ana; Kevin Romero, political science major from Norwalk; Dominique Noble, a senior political science major from Santa Clara; Amethyst Jefferson-Roberts, a senior Africana Studies and political science major from Compton; Min Kim, a political science major from Seoul, South Korea; and Ciarra Lofstrom, a junior economics major from Huntington Beach.

With her success last year, Hall became the all-time winningest mooter in CSULB history with an overall record of 31-8, a mark she should add to. Kyle Maury, Hall’s teammate last year who has since graduated, finished with an overall lifetime mark of 29-7. Biakanja, the only CSULB mooter to win three tournaments last year, has a lifetime record of 26-5-2, which ties for third most wins in the program’s history.

Last year, Hall and Maury finished as the national oral advocacy runner-up in a split decision and for CSULB it was the first time it captured multiple orator awards at nationals, becoming just one of four schools to advance to the finals more than once.

At the recent Upper Midwestern Regional were (l-r) Patrick Dyson, Kevin Poush, Shelby Morgan and Lewis Ringel.

In early November, Kevin Poush, a senior political science major from Long Beach and Shelby Morgan, a senior political science major from El Dorado Hills, won the Upper Midwestern Regional, where CSULB repeated as champs. Poush won top orator and Morgan was named the third best orator. They went undefeated (7-0), knocking off teams from the University of Chicago (twice), Monmouth College, Loyola University-Chicago, Arkansas State University and Eastern Illinois University (twice). It was Poush’s second regional title and he now has a lifetime mark in tournaments of 19-2-2. Both will be participating in nationals in January.

For the 2014 regional event, CSULB judges scheduled are federal judge John Tobin, California Court of Appeal Justice Fred Wood, California Superior Court judges Jim Otto, Laura Walton, Kelvin Filer and Glen Mondo; California Administrative Law judges Norman Delaterre and Angela Villegas; and California Superior Court Commissioner Michael Pearce. Also scheduled are Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert, several past and present Long Beach bar presidents, members of the Hunt/Ball Long Beach Inn of Court and Nancy McGinnis, a former dean of Pepperdine University’s School of Law.

Political Science faculty member and team coach Lewis Ringel, now in his ninth year heading the program, also gives great credit to his coaching staff which includes attorneys Patrick Dyson, Judy Hails and Kelsey Morris; Yasmin Manners, Sabrina van der Linden-Gonzales and Peter Vasilion.

“We lost three quality, high-end mooters from last year’s team and they made everybody else better,” said Ringel. “Two-thirds of the team is new, so there is some rebuilding. I expect to win, but I don’t think it’s going to be easy. This is a tough regional and we’ll go on to nationals and face tough teams, but we’re a dedicated group and I expect them to work hard, learn, have a lot of fun and succeed.”

This season the national championship of intercollegiate moot court will take place Jan. 16-17 in Miami at the Florida International University College of Law.

For more information, Ringel can be reached at 562/985-4708. Those interested can visit the moot court website.