CSULB Moot Court prepares law students for real trials

Story by Karrie Comfort   Contributor

Not many people ask to stand on trial. However, the people in moot court are a little different.

To be fair, they aren’t standing on trial for a crime. They are instead in front of a panel of judges, presenting a case for an issue. In short, moot court is appellate advocacy.

Students compete in teams of two by presenting a hypothetical case involving two constitutional issues. 

The petitioner of the team then presents these cases to the judges. The respondent team they compete against then has an opportunity to present their side of the issue. 

The trial proceeds back to the petitioner, who has an opportunity for rebuttal. The judges are permitted to ask questions at any time during the trial.

“Sometimes the judges just look at you,” said competitor Justin Adofina, “So you just have to say the same thing over and over.”

Although the cases are fictional, all of the case law is from real past decisions and represents real precedent, adding pressure to competitors to be concise and knowledgable about their cases. 

Adofina currently represents the CSULB moot court along with his partner, Julieta Hernandez. 

Adofina and Hernandez competed in the Upper Midwest Regional Tournament, one out of 10 regional tournaments. Their team took the runner-up position, which qualified them for the upcoming tournament nationals.

Adofina accredited his team’s success to the class POSC 417-Legal Practices: Moot Court, taught by Dr. Lewis Ringel.

“He’s the reason we’re doing so well,” he said.

Although Adofina and Hernandez hope to win the national title here at home, Adofina is especially proud of Long Beach State’s good reputation.

“Gracious in defeat, humble in victory…and we always shake hands,” he said. 

But so far this season, they have only had to be gracious once.  The moot court national tournament will be held on campus on Jan. 15 and 16. 


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