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A Short History of Moot Court at CSULB

CSULB is one of seven schools to win a national moot court championship. It did so in 2003 when CSULB juniors Tommy Hartnett and Ja’Nene Hall finished first at that year’s American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) tournament. In the year’s since 2003, at least twelve additional CSULB teams have reached the elimination rounds: four of which reached the sweet sixteen.  Katelyn North-Cheo (2004 and 2005) and Timothy Appelbaum (2009 and 2011) are the only CSULB students to advance to multiple sweet-sixteens.  North-Cheo did so with teammates Anna Maria Banchero and Ben Koegel while Appelbaum advanced with Heather Pegg and Alexandra Lohman.  North-Cheo, Appelbaum and Reema Abboud are the only CSULB students to advance to the elimination rounds of the national tournament more than once:  Appelbaum and Abboud each did so three times.  There are likely students two or three students who have advanced to elimination rounds more than three times. 

CSULB has competed in nine western regional tournaments and three unofficial spring tournaments.  Six CSULB students – Tommy Hartnett/Ja’Nene Hall (2002-2003), Timothy Appelbaum/Heather Pegg (2009), and Jillian Ewan/Matthew Gunter (2010) have won tournaments.  Hartnett/Hall (2002 and twice in 2003), and Ewan (2009 and twice in 2010) have advanced to three tournament semi-finals.  Hartnett and Hall (2002 and two in 2003) and Ewan (two in 2010) are the only CSULB students to qualify for multiple tournament finals.  Six CSULB students, Hartnett/Hall (2002), Flores/Thomas (2002), and Ewan/McNamara (2009) have been tournament runners up.CSULB students have won several national moot court awards.  Thomas Hartnett (1st), Timothy Appelbaum (4th), Alexandra Lohman (4th), and Matthew Giunter (11th)  have won national orator awards.  Jalyn Wang, Kirstin Brown, Timothy Appelbaum and Alexandra Lohman have won written brief awards at the national tournament.

Starting in 2006-07, teams had to earn bids to the national championship through a series of automatic and at-large-bids. In addition, the national finals adopted a seeding system in 2006-07. These changes have made it more difficult to reach, and succeed, at the national tournament.To date, CSULB teams (including three hybrid teams) have earned fourteen bids to nationals.  Nine of these bids have been automatic bids, while five have been at large-bids.  In 2009, five CSULB teams earned automatic bids.  That stands as a record for the CSULB program.  In 2010, CSULB earned four automatic bids.  As of 2010, three CSULB students have earned multiple bids – Paige McCormack (who earned at-large-bids in 2006 and 2007) and Timothy Appelbaum and Reema Abboud (who earned automatic bids in 2008, 2009, and 2010).In 2006-07, CSULB senior Michalyn Thomas, paired in a hybrid team with Will Glaser (a junior from Patrick Henry College), became the first CSULB student in history to be on a team that earned an automatic bid. Paige McCormack and Shelia Soroushian and Kristin Hallak and Jillian Martins became the first CSULB teams to earn at-large-bids. CSULB’s three teams performed ably at the national event (held in VA) against stiff competition.

2007-08 proved a better year at nationals for the CSULB squad. The program again earned three bids to nationals. A hybrid of Mason Taylor and Anna Accomazzo (a freshman from Patrick Henry College) earned an automatic bid. In addition, CSULB teams of Paige McCormack (the only CSULB student to earn two bids to nationals) and Muhammad Ataya and Melissa Sanchez and Ted McNamara earned at-large-bids. Traveling to Iowa in January, CSULB took along an alternate, senior Lindsay Nelson. When fate (and the weather) kept two teams from attending the national tournament, Nelson teamed with Justin Jenkins (a junior from Patrick Henry College) to form a hybrid. The two hybrids survived to the elimination rounds with Taylor and Accomazzo missing a trip to the Sweet Sixteen by a mere two points. The team of McCormack and Ataya just missed becoming CSULB’s third member of the round of 32.In the spring of 2008, two CSULB teams competed in the Capital Challenge. This was an invitational moot court tournament held at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington DC. Students from four universities competed. Judges included a former White House and Treasury Department Counsel, the current Counsel for the Department of Transportation, an Assistant United States Attorney, a Maryland Assistant Attorney General,the court reporter for the LA Times, David Savage, and numerous members of the DC-VA-MD bars.  The team of Mason Lawrence Taylor and Ted McNamara reached the semi-finals before being eliminated by the eventual champion.

In 2008-09, three teams from CSULB garnered automatic bids. Heather Pegg and Timothy Appelbaum, Laila Nikaien and Reema Abboud, and Nicole Wilson and Edgar Gutierrez competed at Chapman Law School in Orange County. Two teams advanced to elimination rounds with one, Pegg and Appelbaum, reaching the sweet 16. These were the first non-hybrid CSULB students to earn automatic bids and the first to reach the elimination rounds since the tournament went to a bid and seeding system.

In the spring of 2009, several CSULB teams competed in the California Classic.  This was an invitational moot court tournament held in Los Angeles at Mt. St. Mary’s College.  Three CSULB teams reached the elimination rounds.  The finals pitted the champions Heather Pegg (the top orator) and Timothy Appelbaum against class-mates Jillian Ewan and Ted McNamara.  Judges included a California Court of Appeals Justice, The Honorable Paul Turner, a federal prosecutor, a former Supreme Court clerk, and numerous members of the CA bar.

In 2009-10, five teams from CSULB garnered automatic bids. Timothy Appelbaum and Reema Abboud, Jillian Ewan and Ryan King, Richard Bosanko and Kyle Bourne, Ashlie Brillault and Jose Reynoso, and Kathleen McHale and Kyle Lee (of Chapman University).  Three teams advanced to elimination rounds before losing split-decisions.

In the spring of 2010, five CSULB teams competed in the California Classic.  This was an invitational moot court tournament held in Fresno, CA at the campus of Fresno State University.  Three CSULB teams reached the elimination rounds.  The finals pitted the champions Jillian Ewan and Matthew Gunter against Fresno States Alisa Campbell and Matias Bernel in a thrilling split decision.  Also reaching the semi-finals were Aaron Sibley/JaVon Payton and Thomas Linton/Payal Pancholi.

The CSULB moot court team of 2010-11 was a veteran squad that earned four bids to the national tournament.  Timothy Appelbaum and Alexandra Lohman advanced to the Sweet 16 – for Appelbaum this was his second appearance in the Sweet 16 and his third appearance in an elimination round.  Appelbaum leaves CSULB with an overall record of 25-7-3 (Western Regional 13-3, CA Classic 5-0, and ACMA National Tournament 7-4-3).  No CSULB student has won more rounds in a career.  Reema Abboud and Andrew Klein advanced to the Round of 32.  For Abboud, this marked her third straight appearance in the Round of 32.  Abboud graduates with a record of 20-10-2 (Western Regional 13-3, CA Classic 2-1-1, and ACMA National Tournament 5-6-1).  Also attending nationals were Jillian Ewan/Aaron Sibley and Matthew Gunter/Richard Bosanko.

The following is a list of CSULB students who have reached elimination rounds at the national tournament:

Year                    Team                                              How far the team advanced

2003                    Hartnett and Hall                        National Champions

2005                    North and Banchero                   Sweet 16

2006                    North and Koegel                       Sweet 16

2009                    Pegg and Appelbaum                  Sweet 16

2010                Abboud and Appelbaum    Round of 32

                        Brillault and Reynoso          Round of 32

                        McHale and Lee                 Round of 32

2011                Lohman and Appelbaum     Sweet 16

                   Abboud and Klein               Round of 32