CSU, Chico News

Church and State Topic for 30th Moot Court Contest

Date: 04-29-2011

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

California State University, Chico’s long-standing moot court competition gets underway next week with 32 student teams taking on the volatile issue of separation of church and state.

The single-elimination tournament gets started Monday, May 2, culminating in the final teams of two arguing their sides before judges at 6 p.m. on May 6 in the Chico City Council chambers. The public is invited to attend.

This is the 30th anniversary of CSU, Chico’s moot court competition, founded by political science professor Dane Cameron, who is moot court adviser and a practicing Chico attorney. “We are a model program for other schools,” Cameron said, adding that more than 300 undergraduate institutions now host moot court, a big increase from years ago.

Moot court has long been a standard method for law school students to learn courtroom skills. Cameron said pre-law students with moot court expertise have an advantage compared to other law-school candidates and sometimes win scholarships for their ability to function in courtroom settings.

CSU, Chico has a moot courtroom on the seventh floor of Butte Hall that students in Cameron’s Simulation in Political Science: Public Law class use. “Very few schools have a courtroom like this,” Cameron said.

More than 50 local judges and attorneys will volunteer next week to hear students’ arguments in the moot court competition. “Many of these people are repeat judges from year to year – they love it,” Cameron said.

Moot court alumni from CSU, Chico who have gone on to become attorneys and judges have returned to be volunteer judges for the proceedings, Cameron said.

Participating students – most pre-law majors – must write an appellate brief and then be prepared to cite up to 10 cases in making their arguments. The quality of briefs and arguments determine if teams lose or win.

The moot court topic is typically a “hot button” issue that has not yet been decided by the Supreme Court, Cameron said.

The 2011 case students received at the start of the semester is based on the dispute over a war memorial in San Diego that includes a 60 ft. cross. The 9th Circuit Court ruled the cross violates the separation of church and state, but that is currently under appeal.

For more information about the moot court competition, call Cameron’s law office at 893-0676.