A moot court is an extracurricular activity that simulates appellate court or arbitral proceedings. Participants take part in simulated court proceedings, which usually involves drafting briefs and participating in oral argument. The term “moot” derives from Anglo-Saxon times, when a moot was a gathering of prominent men in a locality to discuss matters of local importance.Moot court, together with law review, form the two key extracurricular activities in many law schools.
A mock trial is an act or imitation trial. It is similar to a moot court, but mock trials simulate lower-court trials, while moot court simulates appellate court hearings. Teams typically consist of several “attorneys” and several “witnesses” on each side. A round consists of two law students acting as “attorneys” for each side. The trial typically, although not always, begins with motions in limine and housekeeping matters, then moves through opening statements, witness testimony (both direct examination and cross examination), and finishes with a closing argument, sometimes called a summation. Throughout the trial, rules of evidence apply, typically the Federal Rules of Evidence, and objections are made applying these rules. Every team in a tournament is given the same “problem” or “case”, typically several months in advance, but for some tournaments only a few weeks ahead of the tournament’s start. The problems can be criminal or civil, which effects many procedural aspects of the trial, for instance the increased rights of a criminal defendant not to testify against himself. The cases are written in an attempt to create an equal chance of either side prevailing, since the main objective is not to identify the winner of the case, but rather the team with superior advocacy skills.
In the United States and Canada, it now generally refers to the process by which prospective jurors are questioned about their backgrounds and potential biases before being chosen to sit on a jury. It also refers to the process by which expert witnesses are questioned about their backgrounds and qualifications before being allowed to present their opinion testimony in court. As defined by Gordon P. Cleary: “Voir Dire is the process by which attorneys select, or perhaps more appropriately reject, certain jurors to hear a case.” As noted above, in the United States (especially in practice under the Federal Rules of Evidence), voir dire can also refer to examination of the background of a witness to assess their qualification or fitness to give testimony on a given subject.
Intrascholastic “On-Campus” Competitions
Compete against fellow SMU law students and build your skills as an advocate. Practice your public speaking and receive valuable feedback from local members of the bar who volunteer to judge the competitions. Participating also helps earn BOA points towards the prestigious Order of Barristers.
Interscholastic “Off-Campus” Competitions
Interscholastic competitions offer law students an opportunity to take their game on the road. Select advocates will represent Dedman School of Law in various regional and national competitions against other law schools. Each semester the Board of Advocates hosts tryouts for a spot on an interscholastic team for the subsequent semester.
Competitions by Semester
Negotiations, Mock Trial, Moot Court
1L Close, Arbitrations, Top Gun, Transactional, Lynn Pinker Moot