Having its most recent success shown by winning the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) Western Regional in early December, Cal State Long Beach’s (CSULB) program hopes to put forth a similar effort when it competes in the 2012-13 ACMA national championship, set for Friday and Saturday, Jan. 18-19, at the Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Va.
CSULB seniors Adria Bonillas and Kris Biakanja advanced to nationals by winning the regional tournament with a 3-2 victory in the finals against a team from Patrick Henry College. Biakanja, a political science major, and Bonillas, a psychology major, won five straight matchups during the second day’s elimination rounds en route to the university’s second Western Regional title overall and first in the last 11 years serving as host. In doing so, they became the lowest-seeded team to ever capture the Western Regional crown.
“Overall I’d say it is exhilarating to have four Long Beach teams going to nationals,” said Bonillas. “We truly are a united group this year, willing to help one another get to this point. I expect my teammate and I to do exceptionally well, but it won’t be easy. I’m positive that as long as all of us remain focused, we will go far and make Long Beach proud.”
As a program, CSULB earned multiple bids to the 2012-13 ACMA nationals with the university having four of the final eight teams in regional competition. Overall, CSULB placed five teams into the Sweet 16 at the regional.
Qualifying for national tournament along with Biakanja and Bonillas are junior political science major Ashley Hall and senior political science major Kyle Maury, who finished fifth at regionals; senior political science majors Ryan Chapman and Yasmin Manners, who finished sixth and together comprise the winningest moot court team in CSULB history; and senior political science major Brianna Wilbur, who partnered with Rebecca Sampayan from Patrick Henry College. The pair, who met for the first time just the day before regional tournament competition go underway, finished seventh overall and each won orator awards.
“As far as nationals,” said Manners, “I think we’re all anticipating some pretty tough competition, but we’ve been working hard on this case since May that we’ve got the motivation to make it to the final rounds of the tournament—if not to win it.”
“Our goal will be to represent our school in a dignified manner and to close out the semi-finals by placing all of our final teams in the final four, said Lewis Ringel, a CSULB lecturer in political science who is in his seventh year serving as director of the campus’ moot court program and expects his experienced squad to win a lot of ballots and rounds at nationals. “It won’t be easy—we will face great teams and coaches from around the nation, but I am confident that we will do well. Six of our seven mooters have won tournaments and we have won three of our last four tournaments. We are going to Virginia to win—not be someone’s opponent. My biggest concern right now is that half my team has the flu.”
Moot Court, also known as mock Supreme Court and Supreme Court Simulation, is a simulation of an appellate court proceeding that involves teams of student contestants. Teams from colleges and universities throughout the nation are arguing the same case.
This year’s hypothetical case asks two questions: a) Whether a university’s preferential admissions program, which provides extra weight to male applicants in order to balance its student body, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and b) Whether the university in question violated petitioner’s right to free association under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Moot court teams are made up of two individuals, and their 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 responses to questioning, the logic and organization of their arguments, their forensic skills and courtroom demeanor.