CSULB’s Hall-Biakanja Team Captures Moot Court Western Regional Title, Advances to Nationals

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A California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Moot Court Team won the Western Regional competition and is advancing to nationals. The team of Ashley Hall, a senior political science major from Long Beach, and Krist Biakanja, a senior political science major from Huntington Beach, won all seven of its matches to capture the regional title.

CSULB hosted the 13th Annual American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) Western Regional competition for the 13th consecutive year. In all, four Long Beach two-person teams will advance to the national championship of intercollegiate moot court that will take place Jan. 16-17 in Miami at the Florida International University College of Law.

“This is the toughest regional in the country and they beat two teams that are probably among the top 10 if not the top five teams in the country,” said political science faculty member and team coach Lewis Ringel, who is now in his ninth year heading the program. “I’m not surprised they won because I consider Ashley and Krist among the top 10 teams in the country.”

Moot Court, also known as mock Supreme Court and Supreme Court Simulation, is a simulation of an appellate court proceeding. It involves teams of student contestants, clients burdened by a legal problem, briefs and oratory detailing the dimensions of the legal problem before an appellate court, and the judging of performances by panels of law students, attorneys, professors, law faculty, or, on occasion, members of the judicial branch of government. Teams from colleges and universities throughout the nation are arguing the same case.

This year’s hypothetical case asks whether a fictional law requiring that women seeking an abortion undergo a transvaginal ultra-sound procedure and limiting what physicians can tell their patients about the risks of abortion is constitutional.
“I don’t think you take for granted that you’re going to beat a good team, but I’m not surprised they won,” he added. “Krist has never lost a regional and Ashley is the winningest mooter in Long Beach history. These two are terrific.”

Last year, Hall and teammate Kyle Maury finished as the national oral advocacy runner-up in a split decision and for CSULB it was the first time it captured multiple orator awards at nationals, becoming just one of four schools to advance to the finals more than once.

With their regional success, Hall now has a lifetime overall record of 38-7 and Biakanja’s career mark stands at 33-5-2, which is the second most wins in the program’s history.

The Western Regional has produced five national champions, more than any other regional, and includes a CSULB team that captured the national title in 2002-03. The regional has produced 12 national semifinalists, including six in the last three years.

The other CSULB two-person teams advancing to nationals through the Western Regional are Amethyst Jefferson-Roberts, a senior Africana Studies and political science major from Compton, and Dominique Noble, a senior political science major from Santa Clara; and Julieta Hernandez, a senior Chicano/Latino Studies and political science major from Long Beach and Chris Nielson, a senior philosophy and political science major from Santa Ana. In addition, Jefferson-Roberts and Noble each won speaker awards as did CSULB’s Will Torres, a senior political science major from Glendale.

In November, Kevin Poush, a senior political science major from Long Beach, and Shelby Morgan, a senior political science major from El Dorado Hills, qualified for nationals by winning all seven of their matchups in Iowa City, Iowa, at the Upper Midwestern Regional, where CSULB repeated as champs.

Moot court teams’ 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 response to questioning, their forensic skills and their demeanor.

As far as Ringel’s expectations at the upcoming national tournament, he makes no guarantees, but is confident in his teams’ abilities. “I expect to win,” he said. “I’m not guaranteeing that, but I think it’s a realistic expectation based on how we have performed all year. We’ve been in five events so far this year and we’ve won all five and I see no reason to not think we can win. Our regional was hard fought, we have nothing but respect for our opponents and we are excited to head on to nationals.”

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