The numbers are in and it’s clear: UCF is a rising star on the national undergraduate moot court circuit.
In 2013 four UCF students were the first in the university’s history to earn coveted bids to compete in the annual Championship Tournament of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association.
Twice that number of students will represent UCF at the 2016 tournament, this Friday and Saturday at California State University, Long Beach.
“Sending eight students is a great achievement,” said Cynthia Schmidt, the lead faculty advisor and coach for UCF Moot Court, as well as a lecturer and director of the Center for Law and Policy in the Department of Legal Studies in the College of Health and Public Affairs. “It demonstrates we’ve found a model of preparation that’s successful.”
Moot court competition has been a mainstay extracurricular activity at law schools for years. Law students compete by participating in simulated appeals court proceedings and making oral arguments in front of judges.
The ACMA launched a series of moot court competitions for undergraduate students in 2001. Its Championship Tournament has just 160 slots for competitors and draws students from colleges and universities across the country.
This year’s ACMA competitors began their quest for a bid to “nationals” last fall by competing in scrimmages and qualifying regional tournaments. They competed in teams of two, presenting oral arguments for and against a case.
At the Midwest Regional Tournament in Wooster, Ohio, UCF teammates David Moosmann and Chris Chambers won the tournament — for the second year in a row — earning them automatic bids to nationals. UCF teammates Angel Sanchez and Eric Sorice placed third, earning them automatic bids as well. In addition, Chambers won the tournament’s top orator award.
UCF teammates Princelee Clesca and Austyn White earned bids to nationals as a result of their strong performance at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Virginia Beach, Va., while UCF teammates Carlos Vasquez and Shane McGlashen earned bids after performing well at the South Atlantic Regional Tournament in Deland, Fla.
“We’re developing a national reputation as the school folks want to beat,” said Moosmann.
In recent weeks, the eight students have focused on reading court case proceedings and honing their oral argument skills to prepare for this week’s tournament.
McGlashen said he’s been searching through case law for additional authoritative sources to support his oral arguments. He also has been listening to recordings of oral arguments made in front of Supreme Court justices.
“The best medicine for nervousness is preparation,” said Moosmann.
“Preparing for the tournaments helps students learn how to collaborate with teammates in the design and presentation of arguments,” said Schmidt, who will accompany the team to California. “That sort of environment does much to explain their success along with their own hard work and talents.”
Legal studies Chair James Beckman has high praise for her efforts and those of Jason Fiesta, also a lecturer of legal studies and the assistant faculty advisor and coach for UCF Moot Court.
“Cindy and Jason have given an incredible amount of their time, attention and resources to these students, including countless evenings and weekends,” Beckman said.
With that support and endless hours of preparation, the students said they are ready and “can’t wait” for the tournament to begin.
UCF Moot Court is open to students in any major on campus. The majors of the students identified here are as follows: Chris Chambers (philosophy, political science), Princelee Clesca (legal studies; political science, pre-law track), Shane McGlashen (political science, pre-law track), David Moosmann (economics, philosophy), Angel Sanchez (legal studies, political science), Eric Sorice (legal studies), Carlos Vasquez (psychology [Burnett Honors College]) and Austyn White (legal studies).