|| PATRICK HENRY COLLEGE
Your day in court
by Kyle Pousson, PHC Junior
|COURTESY OF PATRICK HENRY COLLEGE|
|The Patrick Henry College Moot Court Team displays the awards won at the 2003 ACMA national tournament. The author, Kyle Pousson, is pictured fourth from the left on the back row.|
"Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court. . . ."
Until recently, only lawyers who had passed the bar exam experienced the privilege of standing before a judge and speaking these words. Next year, that will change as homeschool students across the country are given the opportunity to compete in a new high school moot court league, being tentatively referred to as the Patrick Henry League: High School Moot Court for Christians.
Moot court is a form of oral advocacy that can be likened to a legal debate in an appellate courtroom setting. Competing teams are presented with a hypothetical legal problem in which issues of law are in dispute. The task of each team is to persuade the judges to rule for their position by supporting their arguments with legal principles and applying those principles to the facts of the case. Throughout the competition, participants receive feedback on oral argument style and presentation techniques from practicing attorneys and sitting judges.
Unlike public speaking and policy debate where judges are passive listeners, moot court judges ask probing questions during a competitor's speech. A competitor must be prepared to answer impromptu questions or apply theory to hypothetical situations. Such questions make every round unique.
The competitor sometimes delivers a prepared speech and, like a debater, must be quick to pick up new points and incorporate them into his presentation, but the similarities end there. Because moot court judges can interrupt a team's presentation at any time, the content of the team's arguments and the ability to answer questions are vastly more important than fluent verbal persuasion. Moot court is more than a display of oratorical skills; it is an intellectual exercise requiring research, advocacy, and teamwork.
Seeing firsthand the value and excitement of mock appellate argument, I can assert that there is no substitute for the experience of standing before skeptical judges and defending a theory under intense questioning! For the past two years, I've competed with other Patrick Henry College students in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA). I firmly believe that every homeschool student would benefit from moot court regardless of whether he is exploring the field of law or developing valuable skills for other life pursuits.
Learning to be an effective advocate is an essential part of every Christian's education. Moot court allows students to develop indispensable tools of advocacylegal analysis, interpretation, and public speaking.
Moot court competition requires time and effort, but you will be rewarded with an introduction to written and oral advocacy that is invaluable, regardless of whether you ever enter a real courtroom.
>> For more information, contact:
Patrick Henry College
Attn:.Kyle Pousson (Box 127)
One Patrick Henry Circle
Purcellville, Virginia 20132