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It's No Debate: CSULB Students Head to National Moot Court Tournament

Three teams from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) have earned a spot in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) National Tournament at Drake University Law School January 18-19. 

CSULB senior Mason Taylor and Anna Accomazzo, a student from Patrick Henry College, placed fifth in the ACMA Western Regional competition, which was held at CSULB November 31 and December 1. Juniors Ted McNamara and Melissa Sanchez and seniors Paige McCormack and Muhammad Ataya earned bids to the national tournament after they finished among the top eight teams on the first night of competition. This will be the second trip to the national tournament for McCormack, who postponed graduation in hopes of returning to nationals.  Lindsay Nelson, who like Taylor, McCormack, McNamara, Sanchez, and Ataya was among the top 16 orators, will attend the national tournament as an alternate. 

In addition, Cody Fitch and Ryan Mommaerts finished among the top 16 teams at the regional competition, making this CSULB’s most successful year. 

“I am proud of all of our students and our program,” said Moot Court Director Lewis Ringel.  “We have never had this many teams reach the ‘Sweet 16.’  The most we have had is two.  This year we doubled it.   I attribute our students’ success to a number of factors.  This year, students applied to the course, which kept it smaller and gave them more practice time than ever before.  Our team features good people who have formed an exceptionally close group – they all helped each other so everyone shares in this success.  But the highlight of this event was telling all of our students who had earned bids the good news.  It was exciting to inform Mason, who worked without a local partner and finished sixth among the top speakers.  It was even more so to tell Paige, who has had so many classes with me and put our program before her own career, that she was going back to nationals.”

Moot Court is a simulation of an appellate court proceeding, with two-person legal teams arguing a hypothetical case in front of a panel of judges.  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.  CSULB students began researching and preparing for the fictional case, which focused on one man’s right to keep and bear arms at his home where he operated a school, in the summer.  

Since then, students have received help from graduate assistants Shelagh Hoffman and Katie Kruger, the Hauth Center, Long Beach attorney Pat Dyson, past Long Beach Bar Association president Pam Swindells and former Moot Court competitors Michalyn Thomas and Matt Roche. 

Students were evaluated at the regional competition by a prestigious group of judges, including U.S. District Judges Otis Wright and George Schiavelli and California Superior Court Judges Bradford Andrews, Deborah Andrews, Charles Clay, Norman Delterre, Richard Lyman (retired), and Jesse Rodriguez. Pam Swindells, past Long Beach Bar Association president, and Mike Farras, chancellor of Patrick Henry College, also served as judges.  CSULB has hosted the ACMA Western Regionals for six years. 

For more information, visit CSULB’s Moot Court Web site.

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