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.
Moot Court Class
This course is a cross listed course in Political Science and Criminal Justice. Students of any major are permitted to take this course as long as they meet the prerequisites of ENGL 1102 and COMM 2280 or POLS 2200. This course is only offered in the Fall semester and is repeatable for those students who would like to hone their legal, writing, and public speaking skills.
This is a graded course in which a written assignment (appellate brief) is required and the student must compete at the regional tournament. If the student does not earn a B or better in Moot Court I, he or she will not be permitted to take Moot Court II. The focus of this 3 credit hour course is to develop the student’s writing skills, forensic ability, and legal acumen. This is done by preparing students to compete in the oral competition for the regional tournament and the writing of the appellate brief, which will be submitted to the national competition in January the following semester.
Once a student is in the class, they are a member of the Armstrong Moot Court team. The student will represent Armstrong at a regional tournament in the fall Semester.
Prior Year Titles Held by Armstrong
- 2004 Southeastern Regional Champions, Adam Morrison & Kevin O'Donnell
- 2006 Southeastern Regional Champions, Adam Morrison & Brian Dotson
- 2007 National American Collegiate Moot Court Champions, Adam Morrison & Brian Dotson
- 2011 Best Petitioner Brief, National American Collegiate Moot Court, LaRon Dunham and Will Grimm
Teams by Academic Year
- Lataisha Driggins
- Kristy Sheppard
- Amanda (Dena) Eaves
- Amber Rogers
- Phil Parham
- Thiem Daug
- Will Grimm
- Whittney Richardson
- Robert (Ty) Slater
- Andrew Strickland
- LaRon Dunham
- Kylie Horn
- Nick Marson
- Morgan Owens
- Amanda Wilson
- LaRon Dunham
- Jacquelyn (Lucy) Mesco
Our program began at Armstrong in 2002 with Dr. John Kearnes (retired 2007). Dr. Kearnes began intramural moot court exercises for his Constitutional Law course students to compete in. At the same time, the American Collegiate Moot Court Association was in its infancy. This national organization developed the yearly case problem centered on two constitutional issues. A few of the timely topics have included the constitutionality of the death penalty for minors, same-sex marriage, the national health care law (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), and chat room conversations in which the President’s life was threatened.
We sent our first team to the national tournament in 2003. In 2004, Armstrong was asked by the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) to host a regional tournament for the southeastern United States. Armstrong continued to host the Southeast Undergraduate Moot Court Tournament from 2004 through 2008. Since that time, Armstrong as competed in the Southeast Regional Tournaments at Tampa University, the University of Central Florida, and Stetson University School of Law. The titles Armstrong has acquired in competing in the undergraduate moot court competitions include:
- 2004 Southeastern Regional Champions (Adam Morrison & Kevin O’Donnell)
- 2006 Southeastern Regional Champions (Adam Morrison & Brian Dotson)
- 2007 National American Collegiate Moot Court Champions (Adam Morrison & Brian Dotson)
- 2011 Best Petitioner Brief, American Collegiate Moot Court Tournament (LaRon Dunham & William Grimm)
The students who make up our Moot Court teams at Armstrong have gone on to achieve great things. Adam Morrison received a substantial scholarship to attend Western New England University School of Law, and has since graduated. Brian Dotson attended Mercer Law School. LaRon Dunham is in his second year at the University of Georgia School of Law. Phil Parham is first in his class at Georgia State University College of Law.
We have had several recent developments benefiting our Moot Court program. First, in the Summer of 2013, Armstrong provided funds for a Moot Court room. Our students now have a dedicated space to practice arguments before a panel of judges. Second, Dr. Becky da Cruz was elected to serve on the Executive Board of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association since 2012. And third, Dr. Chris Techlenburg will be joining the Moot Court Team as a co-coach. He has a PhD in Political Science from The University of Florida and a JD from the University of South Carolina, School of Law. He has experience coaching students in ACMA tournaments while at Austin Peay State University.
We are very excited about the trajectory our Moot Court Program at Armstrong!