Six College of Wooster students will be heading to Moot Court Nationals this year.
Moot Court is a simulated appellate advocacy exercise, in which students simulate advocating in front of the Supreme Court. During competition, participants work in groups of two to advocate their position, which addresses a question of constitutional law. Each partner focuses on one of the two questions, and the team is ex- pected to be prepared to argue for either side in different rounds.
According to John Rudisill, the interim head coach of Moot Court, this year’s competition focuses on “a Fourth Amendment privacy question about a possible unlaw- ful search and seizure of a defendant’s cell phone location data and a Sixth Amendment question about the defendant’s right to confront a child witness who has made an accusation against him that was delivered in court via a third party during the criminal trial.” The case in question is fictional, but students justify their arguments with real precedents and legislation. Rudisill also teaches a class, Constitutional Law and Appellate Advocacy, which relates directly to Moot Court. About one-third of the Moot Court team is enrolled in Rudisill’s class.
Among the group of students travelling to nationals is Oria Daugherty ’21, who also acts as one of four captains for the program. She has found her favorite part of the program to be learning cases, perfecting arguments for competition and making connections with other students on the team. Daugherty has qualified for Nationals all three years that she has done Moot Court. Her partner this year is Heather Hartmann ’21, who has also done Moot Court for three years. Together, Daugherty and Hartmann were quarter-finalists at the Midwest Regional. This will be Hartman’s third time at Nationals. Her favorite part of Moot Court is the team atmosphere, “Everyone on the team is so supportive of each other and wants to see each other succeed. I enjoy how each member interprets the case law differently, and how every- one is able to come up with arguments from a closed set of cases.”
Also headed to Nationals this year are Cecelia Payne ’21 and Elyse Evans ’21, who won the Windy City Regional, and Michael Nahhas ’22 and Haley Huett ’23, who were semifinal- ists at the Cleveland Marshal Regional. Nahhas says that his favorite part of the experience has been working with his teammates. “Everyone involved with our team is incredibly supportive of one another. Honestly, that would have to be my favorite part of participating thus far. The people are amazing.”
Many members of the Moot Court team say that they’ve enjoyed participating. “My expe- rience has been good! At first it was very difficult to under- stand how Moot Court works and it was hard to absorb the case material, but it is definitely the kind of activity where it just takes time to improve. You have to actively work on your analytical reading and speak- ing skills. It pushes you out of your comfort zone but in the end you benefit a lot from it,” said Rachel Catus ’22, who has participated in Moot Court for two years. Tim Cotter ’22 agreed, saying, “My experience with Moot Court has been challenging and ultimately extremely rewarding. Developing arguments that are sufficiently intricate and coherent to be persuasive — but can be summarized effectively in eight to ten minutes of speaking — has helped me with everything from interview skills to structuring essays. It’s a lot of work outside of class, and it can be a bit stressful at points, but I wouldn’t give Moot Court up for anything.”
Rudisill has high hopes for the future of Moot Court, stating “in the near future I look forward to the Nationals qualifiers going deep in the tournament and contending for a National Championship in oral advocacy.” Wooster currently ranks eighth in the nation for Moot Court, and Rudisill believes that Wooster will move up in those rankings in the near future.