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CSULB’s moot court team advances to the national tournament

Long Beach State’s moot court team will be heading to the 2021 American Moot Court Association National Tournament, after earning its spot at the Frank Guliuzza Memorial Western Regional.

Marco Romero, left, head coach Lewis Ringel, middle, and Vaishalee Chaudhary, right, after winning the 2019 Western Regional moot court championship. Photo courtesy of CSULB’s moot court website.

This will mark the fourth regional title for the CSULB team and the ninth straight season that the Beach has made it to the regionals.

“Everyone was pulling on the same end of the rope so to speak,” said Lewis Ringel, head coach for the moot court team and political science professor at CSULB. “We have more teams competing in other regional competitions, and we will do our best to win them all.”

Moot court consists of intercollegiate appellate advocacy and involves students from across the nation arguing a fictional case using real Supreme Court models. Every year the American Moot Court Association releases a fictional case with two constitutional issues, and students, using a list of real Supreme Court cases, have to create arguments for both sides of each issue. 

Judges can be anyone familiar with the law or the legal system, typically consisting of lawyers, law students, law school deans and faculty. Undergraduate students are excluded from being judges.

For the second time, the Western Regional trophy was named after Frank Guliuzza, a former coach of moot court teams at Patrick Henry College in Virginia. Guliuzza died in 2018 and was a friend of Ringel, who described him as a “magnificent human being.” 

“He was the very best undergraduate moot court coach of all time and a terrific mentor to students and other coaches such as myself,” Ringel said. “Like myself, Frank was very competitive—but it never got in the way of friendship.”

Only 80 out of 500 teams across the country earn a bid to compete in the national moot court championship and with only 20 colleges taking home first prize, CSULB’s team was the third team in history to win. 

Back in 2003, two third-year students from CSULB finished in first place at the ACMA tournament.

Long Beach State’s 2019 moot court team at a competition last year. Photo courtesy of Marco Romero

Although CSULB’s moot court program consists of five total teams, only two duos have won the Western Regional Tournament thus far, one of which includes second-year political science major Vaishalee Chaudhary and Marco Romero, a third-year political science major. 

Before she joined the CSULB’s moot team in 2018, Chaudhary participated in four years of mock trial at her high school.

“Moot Court has been the single best part of my college career so far, and I don’t anticipate there will ever be anything that even comes close,” Chaudhary said.

Romero became involved with moot court during his second semester as a freshman student, after initially searching for open classes he can join.

“Dr. Ringel allowed me to go watch an invitation CSULB was hosting and I was astonished by how prepared, articulate and knowledgeable his teams were and I instantly fell in love with it,” Romero said.

This was the second Western Regional tournament that Chaudhary and Romero have competed in, an event that CSULB used to host.

“Long Beach Moot Court is a prestigious and well-known program, and our mooters are some of the best in the nation,” Chaudhary said. “We want to make that known at the national championship and strive to bring home another win for Long Beach.” 

According to Chaudhary, the team was disappointed that competitions were being forced to transition online when virtual instruction began back in March. As the program involved traveling for competitions, the duo initially expressed feelings of frustration over this loss.

“One of the most appealing aspects to joining the moot team is the opportunities to compete in other states,” Chaudhary said. “Once the preparation started, however, we realized that being over Zoom has actually strengthened our bond as a team and has fostered an energetic, supportive and close-knit environment that even traveling couldn’t create.”

CSULB’s moot team has gone on to outperform colleges from across the nation, beating teams from The College of Wooster in Ohio, Colorado Christian University and most recently University of California, San Bernardino. 

“People pour countless hours into preparation, practice and crafting their arguments so typically it is very much competitive,” Romero said. “Competitors and coaches take Moot Court very seriously, so often the rounds are very very close.”

Both Romero and Chaudhary plan to return to CSULB’s moot team next fall.

CSULB will compete in the 2021 AMCA National Tournament, which will be held virtually by the AMCA on Friday, Jan. 22 and Saturday, Jan. 23. 

This story was updated on Nov. 18 at 10:33 p.m. to correct information about the teams in the moot court program. 

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