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Moot Court

Making their case in a mock appellate court session recently earned recognition for political science students Nathan Lafontaine and Sabrina Jangda at the National Moot Court competition in Virginia Beach. The duo, who began preparing in the fall made it to the quarterfinals at the regional competition. Pictured, from left are Lafontaine; Pamela Fiber-Ostrow, assistant professor of political science and the team’s adviser; and Jangda.

Students Prepare for Moot Court Competition

Political science majors Nathan Lafontaine and Sabrina Jangda take on other future lawyers in hypothetical Supreme Court

March 12, 2007

By Mimi Ko Cruz

First, Nathan Lafontaine and Sabrina Jangda argued for President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretap program.

Then, the political science students reversed their arguments during the January National Moot Court competition at Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach. The contest is a mock appellate court session with a hypothetical case written by the advisory board of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA).  

“It was our job to argue, on the one hand, that the National Security Agency had no right to intercept petitioners’ email correspondence, which led to their arrest for attempted domestic terrorism,” Lafontaine said. “But, on the flip side, we had to argue that respondent, the government, had every right to do whatever it takes to protect the American people during a time of war, even if it means inconveniencing them.”

Lafontaine and Jangda participated in the national competition, after having advanced to the quarterfinals at the regional competition in December. At the national contest, they competed against the team that placed second overall.

“Our team did extremely well,” said Pamela Fiber-Ostrow, assistant professor of political science who has been coaching Lafontaine and Jangda. “Sabrina and Nathan put forth enormous efforts. They are both exceptional students and very bright.

“Unlike students from many of the schools against whom they competed, they did not receive the hypothetical case until the fall semester (it becomes available in May) and still advanced to the quarterfinals round.

“They learned quickly to brief cases and develop their oral argumentation skills,” she added. “We spent many late evenings on campus, with me grilling them with questions the way a Supreme Court justice might question a lawyer appearing before the Court.”

Both students said they plan to go to law school and become attorneys, and the moot court competitions are preparing them for such careers.

“Being in moot court, you get somewhat of a realization of what it must be like for lawyers in front of the actual Supreme Court,” Jangda said. “You get so much more respect for them and understand how much work and how nerve racking it must be for the actual lawyers. I cannot even fathom how it must be for real attorneys to go up in front of the Supreme Court and deliver their arguments.”
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