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Students make their case in moot court

October 21, 2011

Justin Frye/The Courier - Junior Morgan Hubbard, winner of Monmouth’s first moot court, presents her argument.

Monmouth College held its first ever moot court this week, with semi-finals Sunday and finals Wednesday.

Morgan Hubbard, junior political science major, was declared the top advocate by Dean David Timmerman, Professor Annika Hagley, and guest judge, local retired Judge Ron Tenold. The three other finalists, Alex Holt, Kiante Green and Philip Buckwinkler were awarded plaques of recognition.

Hagley was key in creating the moot court.

“The idea of a moot court came about during a meeting with alumni relations director, Lucy Thompson,” Hagley said. “We were trying to engage alums with law degrees and connect them with our pre-law program.”

Timmerman and Hagley worked to choose a case, to inspire students to participate, and to involve alumi.

“David [Timmerman] had judged moot courts at his previous institution and acted as a mentor and coordinator with me until I got the hang of what I was doing,” Hagley said. “We wanted to give students an opportunity to engage in a process which is very common at law schools and get them thinking and arguing on their feet which is the essence of a liberal arts education.”

A moot court is not a mock trial. In a mock trial the setting is like a criminal court, with a jury and judge. For the moot court, participating students were given a Supreme Court ruling on a case involving religious displays on public land. They were then divided into two teams to argue either for the plaintiff or the defendant.

Students had approximately three weeks to work on their arguments before presenting them in front of a three judge panel for the semi-finals. The judges were Timmerman, Hagley and professor Kate Zittlow-Rogness. The students were given ten minutes to present their argument to the judges, who could interrupt at any point to ask questions. Each student was scored individually, and the four finalists moved on to Wednesday night’s session.

“I absolutely loved moot court,” said Hubbard. “It was interesting, intimidating, and extremely rewarding, even for people who didn’t make it to finals.”

Holt also enjoyed the experience.

“The moot court is just a wonderful liberal arts activity,” he said. “It requires preparation and thoughtful rhetoric, as well as the ability to think quickly. It was a great experience for me and, I think, all the other contestants. I would encourage any future students to participate. Whether you are interested in law or not, it is still a great experience.”

Hagley felt the event was successful enough to merit expanding the college’s moot court program in the future.

“We have had a wonderful first go at this, and myself and David’s hopes are that this will become an annual event with more and more students involved,” said Hagley. “Next year we intend to reach out more to alums and have them involved in every stage of preparation and judging so students can connect and network with them, and they can advise students. Mostly we hope that the students continue to have fun and be as enthusiastic as our group this year.”

Ryan Bronaugh
Contributing Writer

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