Saturday, July 15, 2006

Moot Court

As promised, although this is a week late, a short note about the Moot Court competition from last weekend.

It was, all told, very interesting. Two "advocates" for each side appear before a panel of judges, simulating oral argument before the US Supreme Court. They are given a State Supreme Court opinion explaining their holding for one side, and a Court of Appeals opinion reversing. In those opinions are all the relevant facts and case law cited for each side. Much like academic debate, the participants are expected to be prepared to argue both sides.

This was a fourth amendment issue involving both probable cause (to make an arrest) and reasonable suspicion (to search a nearby airplane hangar).

The first day I watched two rounds and for the most part the competitors were OK but clearly not the cream of the crop. I know it's very difficult to stand up and make arguments off the cuff, especially when questioned directly, often being interrupted in the middle of an argument. However, the second day I was able to see the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, and the level of skill rose dramatically.

Anyway, as someone who would love to argue in front of an appellate court someday, this looks like a blast. Good speaking ability and the moxie to answer questions smoothly and not lose a beat are crucial. I won't get to do this until at least my third term, but I am looking forward to giving it a shot.

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