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CSULB Looking To Defend Moot Court Regional Title Dec. 6-7

Published: December 2, 2013

CSULB will host the 12th Annual American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) Western Regional competition on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7, marking the 12th consecutive year the event has been held on campus. CSULB will be defending its regional title, an event it won for the first time in 2012.

The competition takes place on Friday, Dec. 6, in the University Student Union and in Health and Human Services 1 Building, and on Saturday, Dec. 7, in the College of Business Administration Building. 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.

This year, 28 two-person teams, including five from CSULB, are expected to compete at the regional. Other institutions scheduled to participate include Carroll College (Montana), Fresno State, Cal State Fullerton, Mount St. Mary’s College, Patrick Henry College, Weber State University (Utah), University of Texas-Arlington and University of Houston-Clear Lake.

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 semifinalists, including five in the last seven years. 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 in January at Chapman University School of Law, according to political science faculty member and team coach Lewis Ringel.

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 consists of two parts: a) Whether the warrantless tracking of the defendant’s location through a cell phone violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and b) Whether the President exceeded his authority when he ordered the indefinite detention of an American citizen.

Moot court teams’ 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.

CSULB students competing in the 2013 regional are Asmita Deswal, a senior philosophy major from Coalinga; Kyle Maury, a senior political science and economics major from Long Beach; David Casarrubias, a junior political science major from Azusa; Dillon Westfall, a junior classics major from San Luis Obispo; Krist Biakanja, a senior political science major from Huntington Beach; Laura I. Mergenthaler, a senior political science major from Long Beach; Ruben Frausto, a senior political science major from Walnut; Amethyst Jefferson-Roberts, an Africana Studies and political science major from Compton; Kevin Poush, a senior political science major from Long Beach; and Ashley Hall, a senior political science major from Long Beach, who is looking to become the winningest moot court student in CSULB history. Currently with 19 wins, she is chasing the CSULB record of 26 held by former mooters Yasmin Manners and Ryan Chapman.

CSULB won the ACMA Upper Midwest Regional Moot Court Tournament in Iowa in early November, led by Biakanja, who won his second regional and third tournament overall, more than any other current CSULB mooter.

CSULB regional judges scheduled are Nancy McGinnis, a former dean of Pepperdine University School of Law; California Court of Appeal Justices Paul Turner and Fred Woods; Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert; federal Judge John Tobin; and a number of state trial judges.

Ringel gives great credit to his coaching staff which includes attorneys Patrick Dyson, Judy Hails and Kelsey Morris; Patrick Burke and moot court alums Chapman and Peter Vasilion.

“I returned six people from last fall, so I think we are operating from great strength,” said Ringel. “Of the returning people three of them have won tournaments and all of them have reached the semi-finals of tournaments, so it’s a very deep, talented group.

“Last year, we had a great crop of people who worked really hard, learned and put a lot of time in and we had really good assistant coaches,” he added. “Our success was because of a variety of factors. We had really good veteran leadership. This is the first time since I’ve been here that we are defending the regional title and I expect to defend it.”

This season the national championship of intercollegiate moot court will take place on Jan. 17-18 at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

For more information, Ringel can be reached at 562/985-4708. Those interested can visit the moot court website.

–Shayne Schroeder