After 20 years, the CSULB Moot Court Program won its second national championship in oral advocacy at the American Moot Court Association (AMCA) championship tournament during the weekend of January 21 to 23.
Moot Court is defined as “the simulation of appellate argument,” where the legal team of two students argues a hypothetical legal case in front of a panel of judges who grade them on their case knowledge, response, forensic skills and demeanor, according to the CSULB website.
Lewis Ringel, CSULB’s Moot Court director said the most important competitions for the Moot team are regionals and nationals.
“The two competitions students compete in are written advocacy and oral advocacy,” he said. “We’ve won written three times, and won oral [advocacy] twice.”
This championship win means so much for the Moot Court team, coaches and CSULB is because the oral advocacy had not been won by the university’s team since 2003.
CSULB seniors, Vaishalee Chaudhary and Marco Romero were undefeated this season after winning three regional tournaments during their careers in 2019, 2020, 2021 as well as five of five competitions in the 2021 to 2022 school year.
Chaudhary and Romero also finished fourth in the nation in respondent written advocacy.
“We brought [the win] home and not just for us but for everybody, and [it’s] a great feeling knowing that your whole team deserves a win,” Romero said. “It’s nice to bring it home for Long Beach.”
In the national competition, Chaudhary and Romero went through a total of nine rounds and even defeated perennial AMCA powerhouse, Patrick Henry College.
“There are almost 500 teams that compete around the nation,” Ringel said. “So when you think about it that’s nearly a thousand students, they’re the best two out of the thousand.”
Two CSULB Moot Court teams, Kelton Munch and Georgina Tierney, as well as Aleece Hanson and Celeste Sanchez, qualified as quarter-finalists which gave the university three of the nation’s top eight teams.
The AMCA competition was held virtually on Zoom with over 100 teams from different schools such as the University of Chicago, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Being on Zoom, however, did not stop Chaudhary, Romero, and the rest of the Moot team and coaches from celebrating their victory.
“Our whole career of Moot Court has been about getting to this huge accomplishment,” Chaudhary said. “When we actually did win, it was insane because being the best in the country is really surreal.”
After countless hours of preparation throughout the year and the final nerves of waiting to hear the results, both students felt excited to be able to win for their team and CSULB.
“It’s hard to really put it into words, so much work went into it and not just from me and Vashalee, but from all of our team, the coaches [and] our teammates trying to prepare each other,” Romero said.
The Moot team held a Zoom conference where they celebrated Chaudhary, Romero, and the team’s accomplishments.
CSULB alumni who were former Moot team members flooded the Zoom to congratulate the champions on their win, as well as President Jane Close Conoley and Political Science department chair, Amy Cabrera Rasmussen.
The Mayor of Long Beach, Robert Garcia also congratulated the team on Monday, Jan. 24 in a tweet.
— Office of Mayor Robert Garcia (@LongBeachMayor) January 25, 2022
“I couldn’t stop crying in that Zoom [call] because I was like, ‘This is the moment they’ve been building up for, and they deserve it so much,'” Hanson said. “It was such a beautiful thing to watch.”
Quater-finalists Aleece Hanson and Celeste Sanchez were also proud of themselves for how far they had come in the competition by making it to fifth place.
“[This] was my first national, [and] it was so exciting for me. [It] was a big achievement, but of course, being partnered with Aleece [because] she was amazing and [is] super experienced,” Sanchez said. “So, I also wanted to step up to the level and make everyone proud.”
Hanson has been a part of Moot Court since the second semester of her freshman year. Each season Hanson would work hard to qualify for nationals, and this year she and Sanchez made it to the third day of rounds.
“It was a great way to go out because I think 18-year-old me who did Moot Court would have been so astonished,” Hanson said. “I was so proud of [Sanchez] and so proud of my friends who won too because it was such a full-circle moment.”