DeSales University Students Shine in Moot Court Competition
The DeSales University team consisting of Joseph Holaska and Jennifer Pulcini, both seniors, secured first-place in the Moot Court competition held at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey, recently. The two-member team also received individual honors, with Holaska, a law and society major, being recognized for "Best Rhetorical Ability" and Pulcini, a criminal justice major, for "Best Overall Performance." The occasion marked the first time DeSales participated in the Moot Court competition.
Assistant professors in the DeSales University Department of Social Sciences, Dr. Jennifer Moore and Albert Sproule, who also serves as chairperson, advised and coached the students, and helped them prepare for the event.
"Jennifer and Joe took the initiative to participate in a new type of legal competition and worked hard to achieve fantastic results," said Moore. "As they both enter law school in the fall, this competition will help them achieve even greater success."
Moot Court is an appellate argument, no witnesses are called, and you are not deciding guilt or innocence. According to Moore, in order to be successful in this type of competition, a student must have excellent oral advocacy skills and the ability to respond quickly to difficult questions.
"Moot Court competitions are typically reserved for the law school level," said Moore. "In these types of competitions, students pretend they are arguing an appellate argument on a constitutional issue before the Supreme Court of the United States. While presenting their case, the students must be able to effectively respond to constant questions from the justices."
Although this was the first Moot Court competition in which DeSales participated, students did take part in a Mock Trial competition last year.
Pulicini explained how the two competitions differ.
"Basically, a Mock Trial competition addresses a case at the trial level, while a Moot Court competition is a case that has reached the appellate level," said Pulcini. "The Moot Court is an appellate argument, so no witnesses are called and you don't decide guilt or innocence. In a Mock Trial competition, the team presents the case and students play the roles of both attorneys and witnesses."
The DeSales Team competed against four other teams, represented by Ramapo College and Seton Hall University. Each team was presented with two arguments and asked to justify the reasoning. The team had 20 minutes, which could be divided between the two members any way they wish. There were three rounds in the competition. Each team presented the state once and the defense once. For the third round, the competing teams flipped a coin to see who would present which side. The DeSales team ended up presenting the defense a second time.
"After the first round of the competition, one of the judges asked if we had done anything like this before," said Holaska. "When we answered that we had not, the judge said it was surprising because we had done such a good job."
The appeal to the Supreme Court involved two issues. The first dealt with the fourth amendment and the validity of a search. The second addressed whether or not the defendant fell under the Armed Career Criminal Act because of prior state law convictions that might constitute "serious drug offenses." If so, the minimum sentence would be 15 years.
"Joe and I were able to effectively make note of comments made by the judges during each phase of the competition and then review them before the start of the next competition," said Pulcini. "This allowed us to use points the judges brought up during our argument and also be more prepared for their questions."
Following graduation, Holaska, a resident of Allentown, plans to attend Widener School of Law to study corporate law. Pulcini, of Easton, Pa., plans to attend Quinnipiac School of Law in Connecticut.
"Dr. Moore was infinitely helpful in teaching us how to answer questions and what to expect. Mr. Sproule lent his expertise to our arguments and was extremely supportive of this endeavor from the start," said Holaska. "This was an amazing opportunity, and I'm thankful to have had it."
Press Release: DeSales University Students Shine in Moot Court Competition | Posted on: 4/30/2008
For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034
610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu