Students 'Appeal' to Justices at State Moot Court Competition
By Csaba Sukosd | May 2, 2019
Justices Patrick Fischer and Melody Stewart were among the panel of judges for latest state moot court championship won by Danville High School.
The sixth annual event - hosted by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education - was held at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center last week.
The judge also included representatives from the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the 10th District Court of Appeals. Danville - in Knox County - defeated a Cleveland-area school, Gilmour Academy, in the final round.
"They won, but it was so close," Justice Fischer said. "All four speakers were the type that - hopefully if they go to law school - they'll get hired. I know that."
"I still don't really believe that I'm here," added Danville student Calvin Huh. "It kind of feels like it hasn't happened yet."
The finalists - along with nine other high schools - competed in legal brief-writing and oral argument rounds to persuade a simulated Supreme Court how a case should be decided. Unlike mock trials, moot court is an appellate hearing where the students take on the role of attorneys arguing both sides of an original case.
"I judge moot court competitions at the law schools across the state, and theirs was equivalent in quality and preparedness as law school students are," said Justice Stewart.
The dispute at the center of this year's event stemmed from the Second Amendment, and the breadth of gun ownership rights expansive the right to gun ownership is under the U.S. Constitution. Pulling from U.S. Supreme Court precedent of recognizing a right to keep a loaded gun in one's home, students debated whether that right persists when the home in question is also a vehicle - in this case, a motor home.
Justice Fischer, who helped establish the competition years ago, marveled at the students' composure in dealing with the pressure of the environment and relentless questioning from the panel.
"[It was] a terribly hot bench. It was on fire. It was hotter than the Ohio Supreme Court would be with lawyers, and they handled it well. It was tough," Justice Fischer said.
One of the winners - Danville's Faith Langdon - does plan on pursuing a legal degree. She'll start as a pre-law major at the University of Cincinnati in the fall.
"I've been doing mock trial since I was in fifth grade. So, this really good debate skill of being able to talk about legal concepts has really been a passion of mine for a long time," Langdon said.