Criminal Justice, Social & Political Science
Criminal Justice, Social, & Political Science Main Menu
Moot Court 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 students, attorneys, law faculty or, on occasion, members of the judicial branch of government.
In order to develop these arguments, students conduct legal research on the strand of cases pertinent to their hypothetical. Some professors give students "open cases." In this situation, students can make any legal argument that they can support with actual case law - from any district or level of the judiciary. Most professors prefer a "closed case" approach. In a closed case, the professor provides the students with an appendix of relevant and permissible cases to cite in their arguments. Students are still responsible for researching the cases, distinguishing the facts, and learning the jurisprudence of each of the cases (typically, a closed case will have an appendix of 15 to 20 relevant opinions).
At oral arguments, students are given 20 minutes to speak; they may split their time in any way desired. The judge(s) hearing the arguments are encouraged to interrupt the student-lawyers at any time, asking legal and policy questions (and even, occasionally, impertinent questions).Through this process, students develop the ability to think quickly, speak extemporaneously, and use their legal knowledge. Students also develop an understanding of the norms and hierarchies embedded in legal systems.
The overwhelming focus of your own legal research and preparation will be focused on what we will affectionately call "the Competition Case" - the case to be argued at regional competition.