DENTON (UNT), Texas -- University of North Texas Moot Court members Taylor Ledford, a recent graduate from San Antonio, and Eryn Mascia, a junior from Trophy Club, took first place for their written appellate brief at the American Collegiate Moot Court Association National Championship Tournament. The competition was held this month at California State University at Long Beach.
During a moot court, a simulation of an appellate court's proceedings, teams of two students examine a legal problem and present arguments for both sides of the case to a group of appellate judges. The judges review the students' arguments and ask them questions about the case. All first- and second-year law students at American colleges and universities must participate in a moot court activity.
The fictional court case that teams argued at tournaments this year centered on an imaginary federal act that prohibited all public and private colleges and universities in the U.S. from accepting students who are undocumented immigrants. Participants determined if that act violated the First Amendment exercise of the religious rights of a fictional private, nondenominational religious college. The college has a history of accepting undocumented immigrants because its founders stipulated that at least one scholarship a year would be given to a deserving undocumented immigrant.
UNT's Moot Court Squad participates each year in several tournaments sponsored by the Texas branch of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association and also regularly qualifies teams of students for the national championship tournament. The association was founded to advance the legal and analytical skills of undergraduate college students who plan to attend law school.
Ledford, who received his bachelor's degree in political science from UNT in December, and Mascia, a political science and linguistics major, wrote their appellate brief on behalf of the petitioners -- the fictional college and an undocumented student who won a scholarship.
"Writing an appellate brief in general is a difficult task not only because of complex legal questions, but the formatting itself. It requires a detailed list of contents, table of authorities, summary of the facts of the case and a summary of the arguments, in addition to the 15 to 20 page argument-in-chief," Ledford said.
The two advanced to the round of the last 32 teams on the second day of competition at the championship tournament before being defeated. Ledford was named the tournament's 16th best speaker out of 160 students.
A second team of UNT students, Kristen DeWilde, a junior international studies and business major, and Alexis Rickmers, a junior political science and English major, also advanced to the round of 32 and were ranked ninth after the first day of oral arguments.