WHAT IS MOOT COURT?
Mooting is an exercise, often held as a competition from high schools to law schools, where students practice making oral arguments to convince a panel of judges to agree with them on a point of law. It replicates elements of oral arguments and written submittions presented to appellate courts in Canada. We will moot actual leading cases (role play) and only use oral arguments; the written submissions are limited to your weekly reading exercises on OWL - which also prepare you to moot. Our moot forum will begin in Zoom, and may develop into in-person options according to College policy relative to the pandemic.
WHY ARE WE MOOTING?
Every case we will study in this course (every case we will moot) was a significant legal event in shaping the doctrines, tests, principles, and interpretive frameworks for law as it effects children, youths, and families in Canada today.
Mooting provides a situation, a challenge, for you to develop verbal skills, to practice reasoning and anlaysis, and to learn the leading case law, most important statutes, treatises, and consitutional charters in the country. It will also provide a weekly focal point as you prepare to write case brief papers and the final exam successfully. Case briefing and mooting are inter-related skills and they are the primary educational vehicles of our course.
WHAT ROLES WILL I PLAY?
2) Counsel for the Appellant
3) Counsel for the Respondent
4) Bailiff (Time Keeper & Moderator)
Over the term all students will have a chance to play all roles. Whatever your role, all participants must place their last name (or first and last) in the zoom id - so we can respond to eachother. This will be especially important. A little interupting and chaos is good, but also use the hand raising icon, so the Baliff can call on you (this is an adaptation to Zoom but it's necessary). Everyone must contribute; sitting for an hour with your microphone muted and camera off is borish and prolongs the pain. It is amazing how time flies when you participate.
Counsel for the Appellants and Respondents do not address each other directly, they address the Justices. The job of counsel is to frame the legal question for the Court, and explain why the Justices should answer it in their favour. "The issue before this court is..." and then provide an answer that is conducive to what your side hopes to achieve. Use the facts of the case, previous law used in the report, social and historical arguments to make your point. And yes draw on lectures freely.
Our T.A., Mackenzie Mountford, outlined four things students playing counsel might do to prepare when reading the case report:
1 - Reference the legislation (or other forms of law) cited in the court opinion (the reading) and interpret it to support your stance.
2 - Review the legal questions presented in the case. How can you answer these questions in a way that supports your stance?
3 - Frame the facts of the case in a way that produces a legal question that you can answer in a way that supports your stance.
4 - Borrow reasoning from the court opinion that supports your stance.
Advice for Counsel: On appeal, counsel does not object to what the Justices are saying, or what opposing counsel is saying. Your job is to assert your answers to the questions before the court. It will be easier for you to do this if (a) your side actually won or (b) there is a strong dissenting opinion that you can use to find the reasons why you should have won. Remember, this is role play; don't fuss about whether you are assigned to the 'right' side or whether you 'win.' Focus first on determining what the legal questions are and how to answer them in your side's favour.
We are evaluating your speaking, analytic, listening, and rhetorical skills. We are interested in our effort, responsiveness to others, and energy. Imagining in advance what questions you are likely to hear and what your adversaries will say, while listening to what is being said carefully are probably the key skills of rhetoric and - well - for most of life.
Justices should play their assigned roles too. If the opinion was unanimous, then this role is simplier. Your job is to ask questions of counsel relavant to the issue as the Court framed it, and based on what you hear them say. If the Court was divded in the report, think in advance about what your side (majority, concurring, and dissent) ruled and reasoned. What questions would they ask? Then listen carefully and seek openings to challenge the position that counsel is taking. Don't be rude, but your role is to be assertive, interrupt as needed, and press the counsel to explain their side. If you are mild and nice and silent, you'll be out of character and you won't be helping your friends. If the questions are flying - and people are on point, everybody scores better.
In real courts, baillifs follow instructions from the judge or the chief justice - here we need Bailiffs to take change of the procedure and keep us on time.
HOW WILL THE MOOTING PROCESS GO?
Step 1) Call to order [1 minute]
The Bailiff calls the court to order, announcing the name of the court, the date, and the names of the presiding judges (use our names or it will get confusing on zoom - do not name them in majority, concurring, or minority - that is their secret). Something like, "Hear ye hear ye, all rise. The Supreme Court of Canada convenes on this day (state the case date), the honorable Justices so and so and whosowhere presiding."
The Bailiff then announces the parties such as "The honourable justices will hear arguments in the matter between RESPONDANT and APPELLENT." Then, s/he turns to the Counsel for the Appellant calling them by name, "Mr. whatever, Ms. whomever... you have 7 minutes to make your opening statement to the court."
Step 2) Opening Statements and Questioning [15-16 minutes]
The Counselors for each side will have to prepare as teams before the moot, decide how to divide the time, because every counselor must speak in the course of the moot. The Appellants go first, followed by the Respondents.
During your opening statement (by our rules) the Justices must ask questions. They give counsel about 2 minutes before they begin asking. If the students assigned to the Bench refuse to pose questions, we will stop the proceedings to explain the role of Judges. Justices will address Council as 'Mr.' or 'Ms.' or 'Counselor.' Counsel must stop talking when interrupted or directed by the Bailif and answer the question posed. Address the judges as 'Your Honour' or 'Madam/Mister Justice' or 'Justice X (last name).'
The Bailiff keeps time and draws the opening statement of the Appellant to a close at seven minutes, s/he has the right to afford counsel an additional minute to respond to a question. Then s/he turns to the Counsel for the Respondent calling them by name, "Mr. whatever, Ms. whomever... you have 7 minutes to make your opening statement to the court." When the Respondent's time is up (7 mins plus 1), the Bailiff announces a 5 minute recess, and the instructor will place the respondents in one break out room, the appellants in another, and the justices and bailiff in a third.
Step 3) Recess for Counsel [5 minutes]
During this time Counsel for each side should have a quick private exchange about the rebuttal strategy. The instructor will bring us out of the breakout rooms.
Step 4) Rebuttal from Counsel [10 minutes]
Once we come out of the break, the Bailiff announces that the Counsel for the Appellant have 5 minutes to offer a rebuttal. The rebuttal is your opportunity to contradict what the Respondent have argued or to better address an important questions raised by the Justices. For our purposes there are no questions during the statement of rebuttal.
When time comes, the Bailiff announces that time is up and that the Respondents have 5 minutes. When the time is up on the Respondents, the Bailiff calls for the instructor to open a break out room for the Justices to confer for 10 minutes alone.
Step 5) Recess for the Bench [10 minutes]
The Justices discuss among themselves how they wish to decide the case. Though the Justices should have played a roled framed by the historic opinion during the statement and question periods, they are not bound by how the case was historically decided. You may respond to the issue posed in the case as you see fit. This said, you must craft a statement which frames the issue before the court in terms of a legal question or questions, the answers to this question or questions, and the assertion of a legal principle that comes from this answer. The Justices may produce as many opinions as they like, but they must be tied to particular judges and named majority, concurring, and dissenting as appropriate. And the judges have to determine who is going to read out which opinions.
Step 6) Pronouncement [5-10 minutes]
Coming out of the Judge Recess, the Bailiff asks if the Justices have decision(s) to offer and who will read them. Taking this answer the Bailiff asks the Justices to read out their decision(s) and announce who supports each. The Majority reads first, and (if they exist) the concurring second, and the dissent last.
Step 7) Group Reflection [10 minutes]
All come out of their roles, and the instructor calls upon the student who played the Bailiff, and then each of the Counsel to say a few words about (1) how they might have ruled; (2) one take away from the week of study and the mooting experience. Finally those who played the Justices are given the last word of reflection.
WHAT ARE MY MOOTING ASSIGNMENTS?
On OWL within the Resources Tab, you will find folders and files that contain your mooting assignments, the Zoom credentials, as well as the names and email addresses of your mooting mates necessary for you to prepare for the weekly moot. For your convenience, I have displayed mooting roles by the numbers listed below on the Course Schedule, but the invitations, email address (etc.) are available only to registered students through OWL.
Mooting Group A
Mooting Group C
|Mooting Group E
1. Mackenzie Bertelsen
2. Kristen Durrer
3. Nathan Grindstaff
5. Yingting Jiang
6. Claudia Leonardo
7. Vicky Mach
8. Megan Merchant
9. Raeanna Ogar
10. Paige Riopelle
11. Abbigail Tennant
Mooting Group B
|Mooting Group D
1. Ellen Arnold
2. Zhiyin Deng
3. Kayla Getty
4. Kyle Handy
5. Jacob Jenkins
6. Maggie Larocque-Jarvis
8. Abigail Mendham
9. Ryan Ng
10. Liang Qing
Mooting Group F