Wednesday, February 13, 2008
In a national moot court tournament conducting several preliminary rounds, "courtrooms" are of course at a premium, but in many instances the student teams find themselves facing very odd configurations. Sometimes the rounds are conducted using trial courtrooms after hours. In those situations, I've often seen one judge on the bench, one in the witness box, and one in the court reporter's seat. At least that arrangement puts them more or less in the advocate's same visual field.
Then there are the law school classrooms. Where do the judges sit? On "benches" in which three judges wedge themselves behind a single desk, with a student advocate standing before them and looking down? In a row of classroom seats, with the advocate behind the professor's lectern? And where is the timekeeper? Within view, or off to one side--which forces the student attorney to make furtive sidelong glances to determine how much time remains?
If national moot court tournaments are intended to promote and improve appellate advocacy, let's start by doing a better job of arranging the moot courtrooms. Do readers have suggestions for tournament organizers?