Campus: CSU Long Beach -- February 03, 2003

Cal State Long Beach Team Captures Top Honors at National Undergraduate Moot Court Tournament

A pair of students from California State University, Long Beach teamed up to capture top honors at the National Undergraduate Moot Court Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24-25, at Honors College at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Seniors political science majors Thomas Hartnett and Ja’Nene Hall defeated the top team from Patrick Henry College in Virginia in the finals and finished with a perfect 6-0 record at the competition en route to winning the national championship. Additionally, Hartnett was awarded the fourth-place trophy for All American Moot Court Individual Orals after the preliminary rounds.

Both students received an individual first-place trophy, and each of them will receive a $2,500 scholarship from the American Collegiate Moot Court Association, which sponsored the tournament.

What makes the national title even more incredible is the fact that Cal State Long Beach has just completed the first semester of ever having a moot court program on campus, and this was the first time a CSULB team had ever competed at the national level.

“Thomas and Ja’Nene were amazing,” said Renee Cramer, assistant professor of political science and director of the Moot Court Program at CSULB. Cramer was charged with establishing the program at the university when she was hired for the fall 2001 semester. “I was incredibly proud of all of our students. In addition to distinguishing themselves as top scholars and orators, each and every member of our team showed humility and grace in victory.”

In all, 60 teams from across the country competed at the tournament, including three from Cal State Long Beach. In addition to Hartnett and Hall’s performance, the CSULB team of senior Kristen Brown and junior Stacy Lee Wallace advanced to the “Sweet 16” round after the preliminary competition and received a “Distinguished Team” trophy.

For the uninitiated, moot courts are exercises in which students play the role of attorneys in a hypothetical case before a panel of real lawyers and judges acting as appellate judges. In a competition, each team is presented with the same case and background materials, and team members are judged in four categories—demonstration of knowledge of subject matter, response to questioning, forensic skill and courtroom demeanor.

This year’s case stemmed from a hypothetical executive order much like some provisions in the Patriot Act of 2001. It focuses on the arrest of Raman Aziz al-Abi, a tenured professor at a Texas university and a resident alien of the United States who has lived in the United States continuously for 27 years prior to his arrest. The defendant is being held in Guantanamo Bay, awaiting a military tribunal.

The teams presented oral arguments on two issues: 1) whether a resident alien of the United States is entitled to due process protection under the fifth and sixth amendments of the U.S. Constitution; and 2) whether the President of the United States exceeded authority under the second article of the U.S. Constitution.

Each team had a total of 20 minutes to present its argument, and each team member argued for a minimum of seven minutes. And, because teams could argue the case up to six times during the tournament, depending on how far they advanced, team members had to be prepared to argue either side of the case.

“Because this is just our first year of competition, we were thrilled just to be able to go and compete at the national tournament,” Cramer noted. “Obviously though, we are extremely happy to bring home two team trophies and an individual award. It was a lot of fun.”

Media Contacts: Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454
Shayne Schroeder, 562/985-1727

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