About Moot Court
Program Coordinator: Ryan Suskey, Rsuskey@oclre.org (614) 485-3506
Moot Court focuses on the appellate court process and is designed to provide students the opportunity to present a simulated oral argument and respond to questions posed by a panel of volunteer judges. Arguments are evaluated on the application of the law to the facts of the case.
Moot Court also gives many students their first experience in legal writing by allowing participants to compose a legal brief related to their arguments that will be reviewed and scored by volunteer attorneys. By focusing on the applicability of Constitutional law to current legal issues, students get an opportunity to strengthen critical thinking skills and increase their understanding of the Constitution and judicial system.
Moot Court Competition
Appeal to your students with Moot Court!
Now is the time to get your students involved in Moot Court. The Moot Court program offers students an opportunity to learn about the appellate court process and legal writing in a simulated Supreme Court hearing. The state competition takes place at the Supreme Court of Ohio.
- Registration/Roster Deadline: Friday, March 29, 2019
- Brief Submission Deadline: April 5, 2019 (5 p.m.)
- Withdrawal Deadline: Friday, April 5, 2019
- Moot Court Competition Date: Friday, April 26, 2019
- Location: Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center (65 S. Front St., Columbus, OH 43215)
OCLRE Moot Court competition provides students the opportunity to read, analyze and apply past court decisions to a new set of facts. To order the 2019 case, complete the Moot Court Materials Order Form HERE
Clarifications, updates, and corrections to the case will be found in this errata section as needed. Please check it periodically to stay up to date with the latest changes.
2019 Moot Court Case Summary
Aspiring rocker, Ozzy Mercury, when he’s not touring, lives alone in a motor home he inherited from his Mom. He parks it on a little-used public road behind an abandoned department store and takes advantage of some of the sewer, water, and electrical hookups. But since it’s not the best area of town, Ozzy buys a pistol for protection. One day, he’s practicing on his guitar and someone bangs on the door. He answers the door, gun in hand, only to find it’s the police. He narrowly avoids being shot by the surprised officer; however, he doesn’t avoid being convicted of a felony for having a loaded firearm in a vehicle. Now, he’s appealing.
Mercury will argue that the particular characteristics of the pistol, how he possessed, and where he possessed it means he didn’t actually violate the statute. Second, he’s arguing that even if he did violate the statute, the statute, as it’s being applied to him in this case, violates his rights under the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.
Cost (materials are only available in digital, PDF, format)
- Team Roster
- Behavior Standards Form
- Photo Release Form
- Team Drop Form
- Team Chaperone/Guest List – TBA
- Driving and Parking Details
Registration is limited to 2 teams per school unless space is available after the registration deadline.
Teachers can use Supreme Court decisions to help bring controversial issues into their classroom in an educational, organized way. Cathy Ruffing and Lee Arbetman, from Street Law Inc., suggest ways for educators to use court cases in the classroom. Teachers can also find teaching strategies in the article on how to read, understand, and use court opinions.
What does it mean to interpret the law? Judges must read and understand the Constitution and statutes to know their meaning. From there, they apply that to the case before them. Statutory interpretation is the process by which courts interpret and apply legislation. Some amount of interpretation is often necessary when a case involves a statute. In many cases, there is some ambiguity or vagueness in the words of the statute that must be resolved by the judge. To find the meaning of statutes, judges use various tools and methods of statutory interpretation, including traditional canons of interpretations, legislative history, and purpose.
Canons of interpretation have evolved over time through tradition and case law. As noted, they give judges guidance in how to interpret vague statutes. To help moot court students understand how law can be interpreted, students may read and use excerpts from Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts by Antonin Scalia & Bryan A. Garner.
The following lessons will help introduce moot court concepts and brief writing to your students. Please feel free to use and adapt these lessons to match your needs.
- Intro to Appellate Process and Moot Court - PowerPoint
- Intro to Appellate Process and Moot Court - Lesson Plan
- Intro to Appellate Process and Moot Court - Student Guided Notes
- CREXAC Lesson Plan - Handout 1
- CREXAC Lesson Plan - Handout 2
- Moot Court - CREXAC Legal Writing - Lesson Plan - PS
- Moot Court - CREXAC Legal Writing - Lesson Plan - PS
To assist students in writing their brief, this Model Brief Template can be used. Students should adhere closely to the model and should refer to the descriptions of each section in determining where to place information.
For questions or to get more information please contact Ryan Suskey, Rsuskey@oclre.org (614) 485-3506
How do I get started?
If you or your school/organization are new to the Moot Court Program, welcome! We’re glad you’re here. First, you will need the case file. Once you have ordered the case file, it will be sent to you digitally.
Do you offer training so I can learn more about Moot Court, what it is, and how I have my students participate?
Yes! You should attend our Constitution Camp in the fall. This training will give teachers information about content, teaching strategies, and classroom applications for both our Moot Court and We the People programs. If you’re unable to attend Constitution Camp, contact us and we can try to work out something on an individual basis. Additionally, you can use the lessons/resources already available on our website.
I’ve got my case materials. Is that all? Am I ready to compete?
Not quite! Team registration is a separate cost and registration form. A team consists of 3-6 students. We strongly suggest enrolling more team members to account for potential changes in the roster.
How is the Moot Court Competition Structured?
There are two phases. Once you have ordered your case file and registered your team, you will need to start on the first phase of competition: brief writing. Brief scores account for 40% of your overall score. Once you have submitted your brief, all teams compete for the first time at the competition at the Ohio Supreme Court in Columbus. All teams will compete in the preliminary rounds, and advancing teams will compete in Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and the final round on the same day.
My students and I are struggling with the start-up. Who can help us?
We have teacher mentors for all of our programs, including moot court. Teacher mentors have expressed willingness to help other teachers who are new to a program, to answer questions from the teacher perspective or offer advice. Contact the Moot Court Program Coordinator Ryan Suskey, Rsuskey@oclre.org , firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much time should my students and I spend on practice and preparation?
The short yet complex answer is: it varies. Some teams are classroom-based and therefore spend class time each week preparing. Other teams are extra-curricular and meet one or more times per week, before or after school, or on weekends. Others may only have time to meet a few times per month. There is no right or wrong answer. Figure out what works best for you, your fellow advisors (if any), and your students. Many teams spend time over a few months preparing. Some teams spend time in advance of the case release going over the basics of moot court, such as the appellate court system, how to read a court opinion, constructing legal arguments, etc.
I don’t have a legal advisor. Do I need one?
We do not require that moot court teams have a legal advisor, however, most teachers appreciate assistance from volunteer attorneys, who help students understand case law, courtroom procedure, and etiquette. Often times the legal advisor is the parent of a student or a local attorney who volunteers in his/her community. The time commitment for volunteer legal advisors varies and is worked out between the teacher/team advisor and attorney. If you are unable to find a legal advisor, contact Ryan Suskey, Rsuskey@oclre.org , email@example.com, and we may be able to put you in contact with an interested local attorney.
I have a question about or found a discrepancy in, the facts of the case and/or a witness statement. What do I do?
An errata, corrected errors for the case file, will be posted on the Moot Court page as needed. Errata questions must be submitted by the teacher or legal advisor, not students, and should be directed to Ryan Suskey, Rsuskey@oclre.org , firstname.lastname@example.org.
My school doesn’t have a moot court team, but I want to get involved. What can I do?
Are you a high school student?
Start by talking to a teacher – it could be a social studies teacher, the drama teacher, or even the principal. If you and three or more interested students are willing to take on the challenge, the teacher may be willing, too. There is some expense involved, so make sure to factor that into consideration. If you get buy-in from school personnel, refer the person to the top of this list of FAQs for next steps. If a student can’t convince a teacher in his/her school, please contact us. On occasion, there are other opportunities to get involved.
I am having trouble with the online order form and am getting frustrated. What should I do?
Don’t worry – OCLRE is here to help! Call us at (614) 485-3510 and ask for Cathy Godfrey. She can guide you through problems and make sure you get what you need. Additionally, Cathy can answer questions about usernames and passwords, as well as payment options. We endeavor to continually improve our online order and registration processes to benefit our customers, and your feedback helps us to do so.
What are the payment options for online orders and registrations? Do I have to use a credit card?
We offer several payment options. You may pay with a credit card, request to be invoiced, or enter a purchase order (PO) number. If the PO number is not known at the time an order is placed, you may select the purchase order option and then enter “pending” for the number.
How do I know if my order/registration has been completed successfully?
When orders and registrations have been submitted successfully to us, an automatic email confirmation is generated and should arrive in your inbox within minutes. If you do not receive a confirmation email within an hour, please contact our office at 614-485-3510.
A few helpful hints for proper form completion:
Follow the process all the way through, using the “Next” and “Submit” buttons.
Complete all required (*) fields or you will not be able to proceed/finish
Complete the payment portion of the form, even if you are not paying by credit card. Other options that you can select include requesting an invoice or entering a PO number (or indicate that a PO is in process and the number is “pending”)