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CSUF Moot Court Team Excels in National Tournaments

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It was another successful year for Cal State Fullerton’s moot court team. Moot court, a simulation of U.S. Supreme Court proceedings, provides students with opportunities to compete in regional oral competitions in American Moot Court Association tournaments to earn bids to semi-national and national tournaments. CSUF moot court has consistently placed among the top universities in the country and was ranked eighth in the nation in 2022-23.

“We really owe the teams’ success to the unflagging support that Dr. Pam Fiber-Ostrow pours into our teams,” said Jessica Stern, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “For months, she is working with the students to help them master the case law, develop nimble public speaking skills and draw out their confidence.”

This fall, eight teams competed in four regional tournaments. Moot court members Leah Allari and Brandon Gutierrez advanced to elimination rounds at the Mid-Michigan Regional hosted by Michigan State University on Oct. 28-29, and Gutierrez earned sixth-place speaker.

At the Terps Challenge Regional competition hosted at the University of Maryland, College Park, on Nov. 10-11, First Amendment Team Captain Lili Anderson won the Best Speaker Award, while her partner, James Westfall, secured eighth place. Jane Paden and Jason Bryant placed third in the regional competition, earning them a bid to the preliminary national tournament at the University of Kentucky at Lexington. Additionally, Bryant received recognition as the 10th speaker out of 64 students.

“Participating in a tournament has elevated my public speaking skills. It has helped me to further my critical thinking and comprehension skills. Participating in tournaments has given me skills that I can apply to all areas of my academic career,” said Paden.

Sebastian Ruiz, Colson Houck Teal, Jazmyne Womble and Ayanna Grunwald competed in the Fitchburg State Eastern Regional competition in November. Womble and Grunwald placed third and secured a bid  to compete in the preliminary national tournament at the Louisiana State University School of Law. Womble won the third-place speaker award, while Grunwald clinched the first-place prize out of 94 competitors.

“Preparing for and participating in moot court tournaments felt like I was working as a real-life appellate attorney,” said Womble.

At the Golden Gate tournament hosted by San Francisco State University, all three CSUF teams advanced to elimination rounds including Fourteenth Amendment Team Captain Melody Meddin and her teammates Madison Favela, Luke Dao, Bryan Noble, Valentina Perez and Jorge Zuniga. Favela won the seventh spot among 60 speakers, making her the top speaker on her team.

CSUF’s hard work paid off at the semi-national tournaments in January 2024. Both CSUF teams advanced to quarterfinals in their respective tournaments, earning them bids to the national tournament in February 2024.

“The placements and rankings of these teams simply do not illuminate the growth and development of each student. Winning is a team effort as we depend on each student to help develop the skills of the team. What we cannot see in a trophy for a single team is the incredible hard work and effort of all the students. I am proud that our alumni return each year to coach and mentor the next generation and we stand on the shoulders of giants,” said Fiber-Ostrow, professor of political science, who has coached the team since 2006.

More than 100 universities with 477 teams competed in the regional tournament, and the top 25% of participants were extended bids to the preliminary rounds of the national tournament. Paden, Bryant, Womble and Grunwald competed at the national tournament held at Texas Tech University School of Law on Feb. 9-10.

“Keep a look out for these students as they launch into their careers,” said Stern. “They are poised to accomplish great things.”

Alan Van Fleet