Although most courts in America focus on the statutory law, the Supreme Court applies a different set of laws to cases: Constitutional law. Twelve members of the Diamond Bar High School Mock Trial team had the opportunity to argue cases based on Constitutional issues at the Providence Foundation of Law and Leadership’s first annual Moot Court Tournament in Denver last month.
The competition challenged students from all over the country to debate in Moot Court, a simulation of an appellate court, where the outcomes of lower cases are reviewed. The case they were given was separated into two prongs: a fifth amendment violation and an eighth amendment violation. The teams were given a list of precedent cases to use as support to build their case.
Mock trial has been to Moot Court competitions in past years as well, having competed in tournaments hosted by Duke University and American University Washington College of Law.
“I’ve always been interested in appellate court arguments, which is like constitutionality… and I think Moot Court was helpful to explore constitutional arguments as opposed to being a trial attorney at school,” junior Courtney Chan said.
The participants, freshman Victoria Wang with sophomore Crystal Tsao, sophomore Harris Daud with junior Ryan Lou, senior Danny Mansour with junior Sabrina Wu, senior Yuwen Wang with Chan, Heidi Luo with senior Amelie Lee and senior Hamzah Daud with senior Patrick Ma argued in pairs. Each team found out whether they would be arguing for the petitioner or respondent right before each round. The team was given 20 minutes for each round. This time was used for the petitioners to present their argument and for the respondents to give a rebuttal. Both teams were subject to interruption and questioning from the judge.
“In future competitions, I think I’ll definitely have a much more solid foundation of responding with competent and well structured answers,” Chan said. “It really helped me to practice thinking on the fly, which I feel is very important.”
The competition had several elimination rounds. The first four rounds of competition took place Friday. Out of the six participating teams from DBHS, five advanced to the next round. From there, three teams made it to top 16 and two to the top eight: Daud and Ma along with Chan and Wang.
Although Wang and Chan did not advance to the last round, Daud and Ma competed two more rounds to the finals. Daud and Ma lost by one point to the opposing team.
“The performance given by Patrick Ma and Hamzah Daud was flawless,” Laticia Thomas, Mock Trial’s advisor, said. “They rivaled any two trained professional litigators and it is a tough bar set for all future Moot Court competitors from DBHS to match the level of excellence that they displayed.”
At the end of the first day, ten participants were awarded with orator awards, two of those ten being Daud and Ma.
Aside from participating in the competition, which occupied most of Friday and the first half of Saturday, Mock Trial members also went sightseeing in Denver. On Saturday, they visited the Denver Milk Market, a shopping area similar to the Anaheim Packing House, and went swimming. On Sunday, before their departing flight, the team visited the Rocky Mountains and spent their remaining time in Denver playing in the snow.