CSULB Team Wins The Texas State Undergraduate Moot Court Championship Tournament

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Photo by Clyde Robinson

Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) political science majors Yasmin Manners and Ryan Chapman teamed up to win the Texas State Undergraduate Moot Court Championship Tournament, which was held recently at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas.

Manners and Chapman defeated a team from the University of North Texas in the finals of the tournament to claim the championship.  In all, a total of 28 two-person teams from 11 schools participated in the competition.

“They both had a terrific tournament in Texas.  This is what I have been expecting from them all along and they finally seemed to put it together at this tournament,” said Lewis Ringel, a CSULB political science lecturer who is in his sixth year serving as director of the campus’ moot court program. “I’ve watched them get better with each tournament they’ve competed in and I’m excited to see how much better they can get after this.”

Manners and Chapman received $500 for their first-place finish, and Manners placed third overall in the orator competition.   What’s exciting for Ringel is the fact that both students are juniors who will return next year, and he has high expectations for them.

“The experience from this tournament will help us immeasurably for next year,” said Ringel, noting that the Manners-Chapman team had a 14-3 record, the best one-year record of any team in the program’s 10-year history.  He also noted the two finished 15th at the national tournament earlier this year.  “It was also a good experience because they learned how to win as they went further along; they learned how to deal with pressure.  Yasmin and Ryan are both very smart and I’m really excited to coach them next year; we’ll keep them together as a team, obviously.”

Moot Court, also known as mock Supreme Court and Supreme Court Simulation, is a simulation of an appellate court proceeding.  Participating teams are made up of two individuals, and their combined oral argument must be 20 minutes with each team member presenting a minimum of seven minutes.  Not knowing which viewpoint it will be presenting of the hypothetical case before them, each team member should have the ability to support both arguments.  Moot court judges ask students questions and grade the students on the basis of their knowledge of the case, their response to questioning, their forensic skills and their demeanor.

The hypothetical case used at the Texas event was the same as throughout the year, including regional and national competitions.  It asks: a) Whether the federal government’s issuance of an administrative subpoena requiring a commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP) to turn over the content of a subscriber’s chat room dialogue violated the Fourth Amendment; and b) Whether petitioner’s facilitation of a chat room in which conversations pertaining to allegedly threatening the president occurred was protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In addition to the winning tandem, the team of senior Andrew Kemper and junior Robert Lane competed for CSULB, as did senior Wyatt Lyles and Carroll College (Montana) junior Kari Rice.  The latter pair partnered for what is called a hybrid team, named such because of their different school affiliations.

CSULB’s win in Texas comes on the heels of its second-best overall showing ever at nationals, where it had teams that earned 10th-, 15th- and 20th-place finishes.  CSULB captured the national championship in 2003.

“We’ve had a pretty good year,” said Ringel, “and it’s been a lot of hard work not only by the students participating, but also my assistant coaches, who have put in a lot of time and effort. I can’t say enough about them.”

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