Moot Court

A Moot Court is a simulated court proceeding in which hypothetical (not real) cases are considered.  The object of a “moot court” is to provide experience for students in legal research, writing briefs and presentation of legal arguments before a court.

As a student in RU’s media law class, you will:

  • Be assigned to a group in your concentration area
  • Consider previous moot court cases and research other possible new cases
  • Decide on a case with another group in your concentration
  • Research the issue and write a brief
  • Present the brief and your group’s oral arguments in the last two weeks of class.

You will be assigned an area of your choice but you may end up representing a side that you personally may not like. In that case you still have a responsibility to present the best opposing arguments that are available.

Most groups are 3 to 5 people.  You will need to meet with your legal team, develop a strategy, and research your case. The library database system, especially Lexis, should be sufficient.  Find out what other cases have relevance in your area. Question the facts and get clarification from the instructor if you need it.

Writing a brief

First, here’s a recent, local example of a case brief: Educational Media v Insley, 2012.

Legal briefs dont have to be terribly complex.    They start with headlines in the top third of the brief:

Case name
Date (of oral arguments)
Petitioners represented by …
Respondents represented by …

( Leave one third to one half of the page open at the top. Then start with opening statement (#1 below) and continue through the six sections).

Sections of a brief

1. Opening statement or questions presented. This is a general statement about the nature of the case and the Constitutionally relevant issues in play.
2. Parties to the complaint — Who are they, where are they served (email addresses are OK). What attorneys are serving for plaintiff or defendant. Be clear about whose brief this is.
3. Jurisdiction and venue — Is this a moot case? Are we in a moot court? (Yes of course. In some situations, though, the question of venue is important). So here you just say that that this is a moot case and you’re in a moot court.
4. Facts — Procedural history and things that happened to lead up to the case.
5. Causes of Action — What laws have been broken? What cases can you cite as precedents? This is the most important section of the brief and must be well organized and supported by research which must be accurately cited.  So, for example, let’s say you are arguming that student media should be free to advertise beer and liquor .  How would you make your argument?  You might start with noting the longstanding regard for free speech on campus in various cases and cite three or four. Then you might note how the court decided 44 Liquormart and the Coors alcohol advertising cases. Finally, you might apply the Central Hudson test for advertising in this particular case in order to show why a regulation restricting student advertising is overly broad.    So you go from a broad argument to a narrower argument, backed up by cases.  Then you apply a test or precedent from previous cases to this particular instance.   Overall you should cite six or more cases and discuss how the precedents support your argument.
6. Prayer for Damages — Here you ask the court to do something — Quash the subpoena, grant a motion for summary dismissal, award damages of 10 billion kazillion dollars to your law firm — whatever would be equitable.

Use standard legal style with complete citations. For example: New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964). There are other examples of moot court papers that can be found with a simple Google search for “moot court.”  Briefs will be scored on a scale of one hundred points and will be judged on the basis of research, presentation of concise and cogent arguments and writing style.