Five of Cal State Fullertonâ€™s Moot Court teams advanced to the quarter finals of the Western Regional Tournament on Friday and Saturday, while one team will compete in the final national tournament. CSUF will have the most teams advance than any other of the competing schools.
Sophomore Amy Bailey, 19, and senior Stephen Simpson, 21, received one of nine bids out of a total of 38 teams to proceed in the national tournament at the Tulane Law School in New Orleans, La.
It is possible for other CSUF teams to receive bids since many scores are still pending. Bailey and Simpson placed second place out of the 38 teams while Bailey ranked the third best overall orator and Simpson placed fourth best behind Amy by only three-tenths of a point.
â€œMoot Court helps to develop strong argumentation skills and courtroom demeanor. The chance to develop these skills before attending law school is invaluable,â€ Bailey said. â€œThe oral argument portion of Moot Court is a new and very demanding challenge that I was excited to participate in.â€
Moot Court is a political science and criminal justice course that is required by many law school programs.
The course involves tournaments of mock Supreme Court proceedings in which teams of students research and argue a hypothetical legal case before a panel of judges consisting of attorneys, law faculty and members of the judicial branch of government.
Students are judged based on the knowledge of both sides of a case, forensic evidence, responses to questioning and their demeanor.
The two issues that were presented by the court this weekend included the Affordable Health Care Act and whether is was constitutional under the Commerce Clause and state governmentsâ€™ authority to legally refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. Within one team each member focused on one topic.
The hard work of the CSUF Moot Court members began in May, long before the fall semester started, in order to gain the knowledge and strengthen the arguments for each legal case. The weekends they worked together brought them closer as a group and to professionals within the field.
â€œThe friendships that have developed are the most important aspects of our time together,â€ Simpson said. â€œWhile we have gained experience in legal analysis and oral argumentation, we have also been able to present in front of many influential members of society such as former BAR administrators, practicing attorneys/judges and even a former CA state governor.â€
This preparation gave them the confidence to face some of the toughest Moot Court teams in the nation. This was Joel Garciaâ€™s first time with Moot Court. Garcia, a senior and criminal justice major, had no doubt that CSUF would meet the standards of the past Moot Court champions.
â€œSince it was our first year for some of us, weâ€™ve heard about the intimidating teams of Patrick Henry College from Virginia who have beaten Harvard and Yale teams,â€ Garcia said. â€œBut during the competition and facing them, we knew we were at the same level, if not better.â€
The competition has prepared the students for their futures in law along with the mentoring and teaching of professor and Moot Court coach Pam Fiber-Ostrow. Because many students want to become attorneys and judges, the experience of Moot Court is the closest to a court room as many students will get.
â€œThis course has taught me a lot about the field of law and what it takes to be a lawyer,â€ Garcia said. â€œThe biggest thing though is that all of us that took the class are extremely confident in stepping in front of other intelligent people and taking command of a room.â€