Jan 27, 2009

Moot Court team posts strong showing in California tournament, ranked 9th in nation

by Caroline Harrison

Liberty’s undergraduate Moot Court Team is ranked ninth in the nation after competing in the 2009 National American Collegiate Moot Court Association (NACMCA) Tournament in Los Angeles, Calif. Jan. 15, according the Liberty Web site.

This year four students, Grace Woodson, Mark Hicks, Chandler Smith and Nicole Mazzarella competed as two teams in both the regional and national tournaments.

Mazzarella and her partner Smith were awarded second place in the petitioner brief writing contest at the NACMCA tournament. Woodson won second place speaker, and her partner Hicks won third place speaker at the Southeastern Regional Tournament in Savannah, Ga.

This is the second year that the Moot Court team has competed in the national tournament, according to the Moot Court Web page.

The team is being coached by Professor Grant Rost, and his assistant Brandon Osterbind. This is Rost’s third year coaching. Osterbind is a former member of Liberty’s Moot Court team, and a graduate of Liberty’s School of Law. The Moot Court Team was founded by Michelle Crawford Rickert in 2005, who coached the team during its first year.

Since its creation, 20 students have competed in the program. There are currently eight students on the team.

Several of Liberty’s Moot Court students went on to law school at Liberty and other schools including Ohio State and Washington and Lee.

Victoria Little, a first year Liberty Law student, said that the Moot Court team gave her “a glimpse of what the real life pressures of the courtroom are like.”

Moot Court allows students to gain invaluable experience using principles of appellate argument and interpreting the law.

“It (The Moot Court Team) provides you with the chance to do exactly what law students are doing, which is researching court cases to be able to analyze them, sift through them and pull out relevant rules of law, and explain how they are analogous or distinguishable from other cases,” senior Nicole Mazzarella said.

Most law schools require all their students to be “in a moot” in order to graduate, according to Woodson. Joining a Moot Court team in undergraduate years provides students interested in pursuing law with a competitive edge.

In undergraduate Moot Court students are divided into teams of two people. During competition, each teammate is given an issue to argue before a panel of judges. They are given 10 minutes each to make their arguments while the judges listen and “pepper them with questions testing their knowledge of the law and the strength of their positions,” according to Rost.

The School of Government offers an appellate advocacy class, GOVT 478, which is recommended for students who are considering joining the Moot Court team, according to the Moot Court Web page.

Aside from preparing students for Moot Court, GOVT 478 is the class from which Coach Rost “recruits talent.”

The Moot Court team welcomes students of every major, but is highly recommended to students interested in studying law.

“Pre-law students at Liberty should take every effort to see or take part in an appellate argument before they go to law school because it’s an activity that every law student … must endure,” Rost said. “Knowing what to expect can go a long way.”

Contact Caroline Harrison at

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