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CSULB To Host Moot Court Western Regional Nov. 30-Dec. 1

Published: November 15, 2012

CSULB will host the 11th Annual American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) Western Regional competition on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, the 11th consecutive year the event has been held on campus.

The competition is scheduled to take place in the University Student Union and in Health and Human Services 1 Building on Friday, and in the College of Business Administration Building on Saturday. The event is free and open to the public. On Friday, the event will run from 5 to 9 p.m., and on Saturday competition will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Forty two-person teams are expected to compete at the Western Regional with five of those teams from CSULB. Other institutions participating in the competition will include BYU-Idaho, Carroll College (Montana), Fresno State, Cal State Fullerton, Mt. St Mary’s College, Patrick Henry College, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Weber State University and Westwood College.

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 asks two questions: a) Whether a university’s preferential admissions program, which provides extra weight to male applicants in order to balance its student body, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution? and b) Whether the university in question violated Petitioner’s right to free association under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution?

Moot court teams are made up of two individuals, and their combined oral argument must be 20 minutes with each member of the 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 them on the basis of their knowledge of the case, their response to questioning, their forensic skills and their demeanor.

Four of the past 10 national champions have competed in the Western Regional en route to the national finals, including a team from CSULB that captured the title in 2002-03. The regional has produced at least eight national semi-finalists, including five in the last seven years. Host institution CSULB is coming off its second-best overall showing in the 10-year history of the program when it produced the 10th-, 15th- and 20th-place teams (out of 270 nationwide) at the national tournament last January at Chapman School of Law.

Of the 13-member CSULB moot court team, seven are brand new and six have some experience, including last year’s 15th-ranked team of seniors Ryan Chapman and Yasmin Manners, both political science majors.

“I’ve never returned a team that has gone to the national sweet 16. In some ways it’s actually a better mix than we had on last year’s team because we didn’t have anybody with any national experience,” said Lewis Ringel, a CSULB lecturer in political science who is in his sixth year serving as director of the campus’ moot court program. “Last year we started completely from scratch. This year we have six people with experience and two with national experience, and they can really help the newer people. I have asked some of our people to take the lead because they have experience, where last year I wasn’t really able to do that.”

In addition to Chapman and Manners, CSULB students competing in the 2012 regional are Brianna Wilbur (senior, political science major); Kyle Maury (senior, political science and economics); Asmita Deswal (junior, philosophy); Lily Khosrowpour (senior, political science); Robert Lane (senior, political science); Krist Biakanja (senior, political science); Ashley Hall (junior, political science); Jilliana Velarde (junior, political science); Ruben Frausto (junior, political science); David Casarrubias (junior, political science); and Adria Bonillas (senior, psychology).

Ringel gives great credit to his coaching staff, which includes attorneys Patrick Dyson, Judy Hails and Kelsey Morris; moot court alums Anastasia Benzel, Tim Appelbaum, Peter Vasilion and Wyatt Lyles; and graduate assistant Patrick Burke.

“I expect good things,” said Ringel. “We won two of the four tournaments we competed in last year and I’d like to improve on that. We have a really nice blend and I expect them to do very well.”

Along with a number of state judges and one former and one present federal judge, scheduled to serve as judges at the regional are Erwin Chemerinsky, the current and founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law; Nancy McGinnis, a former dean of Pepperdine University School of Law; California Court of Appeal Justices Paul Turner, Laurence Rubin, Fred Woods, former Justice Gary Hastings, and Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert. In addition, there will be a number of superior court judges, local attorneys and law professors.

The ACMA 2013 National Tournament will be held Jan. 18-19 at the Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Vir.

–Shayne Schroeder