"Conducting a Moot Court"

The instructor will explain to the students what an appeals court is. Students will be told that in appeals court no witnesses are used and no new evidence may be presented. The attorneys for both sides will present their oral arguments before the judges.

The court will consist of a panel of justices; this can be any number: 3, 5, 7, 9 (one will be a Chief Justice). There will be a team of attorneys for the petition and one for the respondent. The remainder of the class can be observers or reporters for the T.V. station or local newspapers.

Roles and Responsibilities

At any time the judges may questions the attorneys about the case. The chief justice will maintain the order of the court, extend the time limit for attorneys if requested, set down the rules of the court, and assign judges to write the majority and dissenting opinions. Judges may express their opinion about the case; they may also try to convince the other judges to side with them.

The attorneys must try to defend their side. The petitioner's attorney should show why the client's treatment was in error, and how that treatment violated the Constitution or state statute. Previous court decisions may be used to back up presentation.

Respondent's attorneys must try to present arguments that best represent their client's position. Previous court decisions may be used to back up presentation. Both sides should discuss the facts of the case.

The rest of the class will take notes and turn in a new article or interview with role players.


Each team of attorneys will be given time to prepare their cases. They should research all material dealing with the case.

Each attorney will have ten minutes to present their arguments; two minutes of this will be used for rebuttal. The judges will then meet and deliberate on the case. This may be done in private or in front of the class. If the deliberation is in front of the class, the judges will be the only ones allowed to speak.

After the deliberation the Chief Justice will give the opinion. The Chief Justice will assign justices to write a majority and minority opinion which will be read to the class later.


Attorneys should be allowed to express their feeling on the roles they played. They should discuss what skills they learned.

Judges should express their feeling on their roles. They should express what they felt their responsibilities were and what they felt were problems they faced.

The rest of the class will evaluate the simulation using the following guide:

Plaintiff Respondent:
(1) Which team had the best presentation?
(2) Which team had the best delivery?
(3) Which team had the most convincing argument?
(4) Which team had the best rationale?
(5) Which team seems to have done the most research?
(6) Which team reacted best to the judges' questioning?

After the class answers these questions, they should be discussed by the class as a whole.

Finally, the class should discuss whether they agree with the judges' decision. Was it reasonable? Why or why not?

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