Unlike TP and LD, Moot Court in NCFCA is limited to a “closed universe”, where you’re only allowed to cite material in a packet created by the league. Honestly, this system always frustrated me. I’d learn of a case that’d support my argumentation perfectly but couldn’t use it because it wasn’t in the “closed universe”. Eventually, I recognized there was a workaround. Embedded cases. In the “closed universe”, the packet lists out a number of cases that are included in the packet. However, the argumentation and decisions in each case generally cite cases that aren’t listed in the opening list. Those cases mentioned within the main ones are “embedded cases”.
As you’re developing your argumentation or improving a point, it’s crucial to utilize these embedded cases. I’ll first explain why embedded sources are so incredibly powerful, and then how to find them effectively.
Why Use Embedded Cases
Embedded sources have a sense of novelty since far fewer people will utilize them than the directly included cases in the packet. This will benefit you by piquing interest from the judge and creates a surprise factor against the opposing counsel.
Moot Court rounds can easily devolve into the same argumentation every single round. When I was competing in Moot Court back in 2020, the Petitioner for the 4th amendment issue had the exact same arguments in the vast majority of rounds. The Petitioner widely even cited the exact same cases. For Justices who presided over multiple rounds, these cases became redundant and boring. They were open to the same questions and responded to by the Respondent in the same way.
Embedded cases are unexpected. They’re used by far fewer people. Meaning that when you cite embedded cases, it piques the interest of your judge. This will boost your points and contribute to your ability to win the round. Embedded cases give you a chance to bring a sense of freshness to your argumentation.
At the Kansas City MO tournament in 2020, I faced argumentation that I wouldn’t have expected from a mile away. The Respondent team my partner and I were up against gave legal precedent from an embedded case which gave a standard of what constituted a 4th amendment violation that I had never heard of before. Both my partner and I were caught completely off-guard. That one embedded case enabled our opponents to build a case that no one was expecting. At that moment, I realized just how powerful embedded cases are.
Most Moot Court competitors will have briefed and thought through the directly stated cases in the packet. However, very few competitors will know the embedded cases nearly as well. Utilizing embedded cases will give you a competitive edge. Leading me to…
How to Find Embedded Cases
There’s a reason why embedded cases aren’t utilized by the majority of competitors: Strong embedded sources are hard to find. Since there’s not as much information about each embedded case in the packet, it can be hard to find embedded cases that apply. In order to sift through the packet as efficiently as possible to find useful ones. The first area I’d recommend looking at is the footnotes of pages. The footnotes of decisions often include information that supports or qualifies the Justice’s decision. In these footnotes, other cases will often be mentioned. The second method is to skim each decision and focus on seeing if case names that you don’t recognize appear. If one does, highlight it and see if there’s more information on the case embedded somewhere else in the packet.
I need to clarify exactly how to use embedded cases. Any information you cite about the embedded case must be present within the packet. I’m not at all encouraging you to cite information outside the packet just because the case is mentioned in one sentence. Don’t do that. In order to stay within the bounds of the rules and fairness, only argue from information about embedded cases given by the packet.
Utilizing embedded cases will boost your argumentation substantially, so make sure to utilize them.
About the Author
Kyle Lee has competed in both Stoa and NCFCA. His accomplishments include over one hundred top-three finishes, first place on Stoa speech ranks for the 2020-2021 season, and the record for the most first places won at a single NCFCA tournament (seven firsts in one go at the 2020 Bothell WA, NCFCA Qualifier). He coaches actively through his organization Conclusive Edge. Outside of speech and debate, Kyle is an avid rock climber, holds a second-degree black belt in Karate, and enjoys writing music in his free time.