Moot court team preps in hopes of national tournament

In preparation for regional competitions in November, the Youngstown State University moot court team continues to practice in hopes of another successful season.

The team, consisting of 19 YSU students, will compete in the Great Lakes Regional Tournament at Saginaw Valley State University on Nov. 8 and 9. They will also take part in the Midwest Regional Tournament on Nov. 22 and 23 at the College of Wooster.

Coached by Ron Slipski, Youngstown attorney, the team began practicing in early June and has increased its preparations as the competitions grow closer.

“There’s a lot of practice,” said team member Mike Goldthwait. “Over the summer, we met every week to study and practice. Once the school year started, we’ve had meetings twice a week for about an hour and a half.”

At these meetings, the team began working towards this year’s case problem. It deals with Article II of the Constitution and the fourth amendment.

“The first thing we have to do is read through real Supreme Court cases that have to do with the issue,” said Catie Carney, a returning team member. “Basically all of our arguments and all of our research comes from those cases.”

To further prepare themselves, the team will soon bring in guest judges to its practices.

“We have Akron law school professors that are coming to judge us,” Goldthwait said. “We’ll also have a number of different people from around the state legal community come in, and we’ll go to the appellate court downtown to practice.”

Last year’s team was highly successful, sending four YSU teams to the national competition. And while Carney admitted that team was extremely talented, she expects more success from this year’s team.

“I’d say we’re way ahead of where we were last year,” Carney said. “It’s a good thing, because we know what we need to do in order to get back to nationals.”

In addition to Carney and Goldthwait, team members include Lindsey Harrison, Jacob Shriner-Briggs, Andrik Massaro, Stephanie Norton, Donald Schuler, Matt Stevens, Erik Glasgow, Phil Sarnowski, Paul Price, Angie Sortini, Melissa Wasser, Sean Varsho, Rob Miller, Greta Frost, Steve Tolfi, Nick Ramsey and Jen Reghetti.

If the team is successful at regional competitions, members can qualify for the American Collegiate Moot Court Association National Tournament at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor Law School in Tempe, Arizona on Jan. 17 and 18.

“We’re very hopeful that a lot of us will qualify,” Goldthwait said.

Another returner is Shriner-Briggs, who placed third in the nation in the individual oral advocacy competition last year.

“We all expect great things out of him as well as the rest of the team,” Goldthwait said. “I think we’re more prepared now than we’ve ever been.”

While having success is at the forefront, Goldthwait said the sheer experience is priceless.

“It’s a fantastical educational opportunity. We’re all learning a lot,” he said. “A lot of the team is planning on going to law school some day and we’re really getting a step up on what we will be doing there.”

Carney agreed, adding that moot court has more basic advantages as well.

“It teaches you the ability to speak clearly and with a purpose,” she said. “It really teaches you how to speak in a professional manner. That’s something that you can’t traditionally learn in a classroom setting.”