An unexpected opportunity resulted in an impressive performance by students in Saginaw Valley State University's moot court program.Students Mark Babcock, a psychology major from Saginaw, and Felicia Jostock, a criminal justice major from North Branch, advanced as a team to the quarterfinals round of the American Collegiate Moot Court Association national invitational tournament in Chicago April 24-25.
The SVSU duo's deep run came as a surprise because SVSU wasn't planning to compete in the tournament just 24 hours before it began.
Julie Keil, assistant professor of political science and adviser to the SVSU moot court program, was scheduled to volunteer at the tournament. The day before the competition, one team dropped out of the tournament, and officials with the American Collegiate Moot Court Association asked Keil if SVSU students could step in.
Jostock and Babcock answered the call, driving to Chicago Friday morning.
“We have some awesome ‘mooters’ in our program,” Keil said. “Anyone who can pick up the case after five months of not looking at it, and can come close to winning the tournament on one day's notice, is an outstanding competitor.”
With little preparation, the duo won several rounds and advanced beyond the first day of competition. On the second day, the SVSU team defeated the tournament's No. 3-seeded pair before falling short in the quarterfinal round to a team from The University of Chicago.
In a moot court competition, students act as attorneys in teams of two. They make arguments to a panel of judges by drawing from constitutional law and Supreme Court cases. Judges then decide winners based on public speaking ability, knowledge of cases and of law, and the ability to answer questions.
“I had to get my shift covered at work and make arrangements at home, but I was able to go,” Jostock said. “It was extremely fun. I was super nervous.”
The successful showing for Babcock and Jostock is the latest accomplishment for the moot court program.
In January, Samantha Jackson, a political science major from Goodells, and Rachel Stocki, a business major from St. Clair, together placed 21st in the national tournament in Miami.
SVSU finished 2014 ranked No. 20 out of 75 colleges and universities competing in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association.
Earlier in April, SVSU graduate and former undergraduate moot court competitor Ashley Hanson Chrysler was part of a Michigan State University College of Law team that won the nation's largest law school-level moot court competition.