Fresno State’s Moot Court program is competing at nationals, and for the first time in its history, not one, but two of its teams qualified.
The national competition is being hosted by the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA). It is being held today and Saturday at the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.
Moot Court simulates the appellate court process. Students make their arguments using legal court precedences to a group of judges.
The teams of Associated Students, Inc. president Moses Menchaca and Simren Gill, and Robert Copley and Grant Mason earned their spots in the national competition by scoring within the top eight at the ACMA’s western regionals. The teams are currently competing with 80 other elite teams from across the country in a pool that already has seen 300 teams eliminated.
“Moot Court is really an opportunity for us to showcase the different opportunities at Fresno State provided to college students and the ability for them to get first hand experience within a courtroom in front of individuals,” Menchaca said. “It’s also good practice for job interviews and speaking capabilities.”
Although at least one Fresno State team has made nationals for the past four years, getting this far with the program has been a challenge.
“One year we didn’t have a class, so we actually developed a club on campus called the Moot Court Club, just so we could exist and could go compete,” said Gina Wallace, the Moot Court adviser. “So the students didn’t get credit, I didn’t get paid, and we still existed just so we could get to the tournament.”
A former moot court student, Matias Bernal, said of Wallace, “She took it really upon herself. If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t have a team.”
Now, Moot Court is reaching for new heights. For the first time at Fresno State, two teams made nationals. If it wasn’t for a bit of bad luck, that number may have been three.
“We would have had three, but we had to compete against ourselves. We had to go Fresno against Fresno,” Wallace said.
Adding to the team’s notable achievements, three members received personal awards, meaning they personally scored within the top 20 debaters in their competition. Menchaca, Copley and Mason each received awards for their highly-ranked performances.