Debate – Moot Court Breakdown by: Eric Meinerding

New challenges ought to be seized with vigor. Moot Court’s rise over the past four years in homeschool forensics has cemented it as an opportunity not to passed up. If you would like to learn more about this activity, want to learn some new and advanced strategies to prepare for the season, or are interested in the legal world at all, Lasting Impact!’s, Eric Meinerding will be offering two opportunities to explore Moot – Online Moot Court Club and an Online Workshop this Wednesday covering the ins and outs of Moot Court …

So you want to do Moot Court? Good. Moot Court stands as the best addition the homeschool Speech and Debate community in years. Currently only offered in the NCFCA Moot Court poses a new style of both speaking and debating that poses exciting challenges for competitors of all styles. One primary reason for this diverse opportunity is because, while Moot Court is an analytical and argumentative activity, it is judged primarily on speaking ability. A Moot Court round has no box for the judge to check based on who won particular arguments, but rather the winner of a round is decided by speaker points assessing a variety of categories. The very structure of the activity allows for a plethora of competitors to find their place in the style.

But before getting any further, a brief explanation of how Moot Court works should be addressed. Moot Court is a two on two forensic event where the competitors present oral arguments in a simulated supreme court setting. Unlike Team Policy, Lincoln Douglas, or Parli, Moot Court is designed to mimic an actual real world activity. After competing in Moot Court at Liberty University, this past year, I had the opportunity to hear oral arguments in the Federal Appeals Court of Veterans Claims while it sat in our law school. While the time limits were longer, and the overall structure was slightly less formal, the arguments, forensic skills, and demeanor were extremely analogous to the competitive moot court I participated in. Meaning learning how to do well in Moot Court, directly applies to the real world legal arena. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you can just skip law school, but if law school may be in your future, moot court provides a massive head start in preparation for that endeavor.

In Moot Court, there are two sides, petitioner and respondent. The petitioner is petitioning (appealing) the court to change their stance on a previous ruling, and the respondent is responding to that assertion and arguing for the court to affirm the old decision. If you are familiar with debate, these sides are somewhat similar to affirmative and negative teams. Every competitor speaks at least once (one speaks twice), and judges are allowed to ask the presenting speaker questions at any time. This “live-fire” questioning creates the incredible experience that makes Moot Court unique. Learning how to eloquently respond to complex questions on the fly is a critical skill in any occupation, and competing in moot court allows students to practice that skill.

And if the mounting threat of research has made you warry of debate categories, Moot Court is built upon on a closed problem. Meaning the only cases and evidence used in competition must come from a specific, limited list of materials provided by the league. While the information may be complex to a certain degree, there is no threat of walking into a round and being completely without knowledge as to the arguments being presented. Secret strategies are not the key to this competition. Well executed delivery sets the excellent orators apart.

I am excited to help guide the next generation of Moot-ers! I hope you will consider Moot Court!