California State University, Long Beach
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Moot Court Nationals Come To Campus

Published: December 15, 2015

PHOTO BY SHAYNE SCHROEDER

CSULB will host the 2016 American Moot Court Association (AMCA) national championship on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 15 and 16. A perennial Western Regional host, this will be the first time CSULB will host the national tournament.

“AMCA has been interested in Long Beach hosting its finals for some time now,” said CSULB political science faculty member and moot court team coach Lewis Ringel, now in his 10th year heading the program, “It’s a very prestigious thing. Hosting a national event like this is important for a university; it’s part of our mission.

“With all of our experience hosting a regional I am told that we’ve become known for doing a good job and we’re known for having excellent judges and dedicated volunteers,” he added. “When I passed the idea of hosting the national tournament along to then-President Don Para and Provost David Dowell, they really jumped at the idea and President (Jane) Conoley has been very encouraging as well.”

“Having the opportunity to host a national tournament like this is really an honor for our university,” said Dowell. “I think it really speaks to the success of our own moot court program and how Dr. Ringel has been a huge part of keeping it at such a high level for more than a decade. We’re excited this is coming to our campus in January.” CSULB won the national oral advocacy national championship in 2002-03 and the written advocacy national championship in 2013-14.

Moot Court, also known as mock Supreme Court and Supreme Court Simulation, is a copy 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 case argues 1) Whether the Fair Education Act violates the rights of Kedesh College under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and 2) Whether the Fair Education Act violates A.R.H.’s right to equal protection of the law as applied to the Congress of the United States through the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. A.R.H. is an undocumented women who is challenging the law because it will prevent her from attending college in the United States.

Moot court teams are made up of two individuals and their combined oral argument must be 20 minutes with each team member 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 questions and grade on the basis of knowledge of the case, response to questioning, forensic skills and demeanor.

Typically, a regional will host 30-36 two-person teams, with nearly 400 teams competing across the country. For the national tournament, 80 teams, which qualified through various regionals throughout the nation, will begin competition on Jan. 15.

“Being a national tournament, it’s obviously much bigger than a regional,” said Ringel, who had three of his own two-person teams advance to this year’s national tournament. “We need more judges, we need more rooms, more food, and we need more parking. So logistically there’s much more involved. With school not back in session at that time that is an advantage in some ways, but we also rely on undergraduate volunteers so with students not on campus they won’t be as readily available. If there are students and staff or faculty who are willing to volunteer some time and help at the event it would, of course, be appreciated.”

The majority of competition will take place in Liberal Arts buildings 1 and 5 and Peterson Hall buildings 1 and 2. Portions will also occur in the University Student Union and in Liberal Arts 151.

Ringel noted that having the availability of such facilities is a huge benefit.

“A number of the law schools have done a very good job hosting the national event in the past,” he said, “but they are generally smaller and have never run tournaments this size, which we have. We have great facilities and a very supportive administration and dedicated staff. I am very fortunate that my department chair, Dr. Teresa Wright, and the College of Liberal Arts are so supportive. The AMCA thought that using schools that have hosted regionals might be a good way to go. I am confident that we will prove them right.”