Patrick Henry College competes in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA) under the tutelage of coaches Dr. Michael Farris and Dr. Frank Guliuzza. The College’s moot court team is one of the most respected in the nation, always qualifying more teams to the national tournament than it is allowed to send, and generally winning several of the qualifiers, brief awards, and speaker awards. With six championships in the past eight years (and consecutive championships the past four years), PHC remains the only ACMA moot court participant to have won more than one title.
The moot court format models appellate courts of law, such as the Supreme Court. Each side is given 20 minutes of speaking time, but rather than delivering a speech non-stop, competitors are constantly interrupted by the judges. There are at least three judges in each round, and they question the speakers, challenging them on their knowledge of the law and coherence of position.
The only way in which moot court differs from the actual practice of law is that students argue from a “closed” case record. Around 500 pages of material (court precedents and statutes) are given and must be the basis for solving the year’s “problem” scenario. PHC teams try to familiarize themselves with the material so well that they go to the lectern with nothing in hand and speak from memorized law expertise.
Moot court is one of the best opportunities to experience the practice of Constitutional Law first hand. Judges at tournaments are usually lawyers, judges, and even former attorney generals or state supreme court justices.