The teams qualified for the national tournament with their performances at the 10th Annual Western Regional Moot Court Qualifying Tournament, hosted at CSULB in December.
At the regionals, CSULB earned two automatic bids, and two of its students earned top orator awards. Two teams– seniors Peter Vasilion, a business marketing major, and Andrew Kemper, a political science major; and juniors Ryan Chapman and Yasmin Manners, both political science majors– earned bids by advancing to the regional quarterfinals and Sweet 16 rounds, respectively.
Vasilion and Kemper notched their place in the quarterfinals with a 3-2 decision over Brigham Young University-Idaho. In the preliminary rounds at the regional, Vasilion and Kemper and Chapman and Manners won a combined 17 of the 18 ballots cast in their opening-night rounds.
Because of a commitment to study abroad by Kemper which would make him unavailable, Taylor Carr, a political science major, will take his place to team with Vasilion at nationals.
The third CSULB team will be a hybrid consisting of Wyatt Lyles, a political science major, and Kari Rice, a student from Carroll College (Montana), one of the institutions that participated in the Western Regional.
Carr and Lyles were CSULB’s top-ranked orators and won speaker awards at regionals. At nationals CSULB will have five students compete in the oral advocacy portion of the competition and four teams, a record for CSULB, entered into the written brief competition.
“I am immensely proud of our teams,” said Lewis Ringel, a CSULB lecturer in political science who is in his sixth year serving as director of the campus’ moot court program. “I am proud of them not just because they earned bids and awards, and because they worked so hard, but because they did this without any mooters in the class who had previous regional tournament experience.”
Ringel pointed out that of all the teams that advanced furthest in the 2011 regional tournament each had one or two experienced mooters while CSULB had none.
“We were rebuilding this year,” said Ringel. “I have a great staff of volunteer coaches and they provided me and our teams with sage advice during countless hours or practice rounds. This year’s team had to learn a lot and it had to learn it fast. I had to learn who could do what so I had to learn fast as well. Experience and leadership cannot be overlooked. Different members of this year’s class stepped up at various times– whether it was organizing meetings or getting a card for a team member whose family had suffered a loss– and in the end we achieved much of what we set out to do.”
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 of 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, which will also be argued at the national tournament, asks two main questions: whether the federal government’s issuance of an administrative subpoena requiring a commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP) to turn over the content of a subscriber’s chat room dialogue violated the Fourth Amendment; and whether petitioner’s facilitation of a chat room in which conversations pertaining to allegedly threatening the president occurred was protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Moot court teams are made up of two individuals, and their combined oral argument must be 20 minutes with each member of the two-person 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 the students on the basis of their knowledge of the case, their response to questioning, their forensic skills and their demeanor.