Our elite Mastership Sourcebooks for NCFCA and Stoa will release soon! Check them out here!

Credit: iStock

Do you have dreams of being an appellate attorney? Do you have visions of grandeur where you are cloaked in a black robe of judicial majesty? If so, taking the time to thoroughly craft quality arguments for moot court is essential. It can seem daunting to be presented with a packet full of intricate facts and dense court opinions. However, if you parse out your prep properly, it is much less intimidating. It is important that you avoid getting overwhelmed by the huge amount of information because then you might miss a relevant detail (and as they always say: the devil is in the details). When gathering information, you should keep your goal in mind. The goal of writing a moot case should be to mimic the information you would find in an amicus brief. 

You should compare the facts of your case to the specific facts of the court cases in your packet. The goal is to draw out how your case is analogous to the facts of a case that ruled in your favor. For example: If you are writing your Respondent case and you are arguing the government did not violate the religious freedom of some religious sect, find a case in your packet that ruled in favor of the government on a religious freedom issue. Dissect all the facts listed in that SCOTUS case. If that case dealt with a law banning the use of drugs in religious services and your packet deals with a law that poses a partial ban on the use of drugs in religious services, try to highlight all the similarities between the two laws. This could include the motive of the legislators, the specific verbiage, the circumstances surrounding the petitioners and why they were in violation of those laws, etc. If you can highlight how the facts are similar, you can conclude for your judges that the ruling the justices issued in that case should also apply to your case. This ruling should point to either the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the packet issue. 

You can then explain the reasoning they used to reach that ruling. This provides the necessary context to understand how the justices viewed the facts in the particular SCOTUS case you are utilizing in light of prior precedent. You can then apply that reasoning to the fact pattern of your case. This will enable you to draw both from your own analysis and the analysis of the Supreme Court. This provides logical connections for your judges and further bolsters your credibility.

If you adhere to this general structure when crafting your arguments, you will have a solid foundation for your case. Apply this general format to each case you have access to. That way when you are questioned, you can have a large pool of arguments to fall back on. If you do this, you will be one step closer to achieving your appellate attorney dreams. 

Allie Satterfield competed in the NCFCA for four years, and she was the 2023 NCFCA Moot Court National Champion. She is currently attending Patrick Henry College, where she competes in collegiate forensics and is pursuing a major in Political Theory. If you would like to book coaching with Allie, Click Here.  

%d bloggers like this: