Lesson 1: (one period) Introduce the Moot Court Activity
Explain that trial courts are different from appellate
a trial, the losing party may challenge the results
of the case in a higher court
study written briefs that were prepared
by the lawyers from each side
courts hear oral arguments
review the record of the case from the lower court
witnesses are called in appellate trials
Teacher may want to make a hand out entitled “The
Appeals Process” from: http://www.uscourts.gov/understand02/content_6_5.html
for the students to read and discuss.
students that they are going to participate in a moot
court activity that will involve an appeal from a lower
Discuss the Moot Court Procedures that follow:
1. 7 students will be assigned to each case:
2 lawyers for the petitioner (the loser in the trial
b. 2 lawyers for the respondent (the winner in
the trial court)
c. 3 justices on the appeals court (1 chief justice
and 2 associate justices)
Lawyers will prepare written briefs that will be sent
to the appellate court prior to giving
oral arguments. Students
learned how to write briefs in English class during the
beginning of the quarter.
Justices assigned to the case will be expected to read
the briefs and prepare
questions that they will ask the
lawyers during the presentations of oral arguments.
Each side will have 10 minutes to make their case during
Lawyers should expect to be interrupted with questions
from the justices
After the oral arguments have concluded, the justices
will deliberate and make their decision.
One of the justices in the majority will write the majority
of the court.
b. The second justice who votes with the majority
will write a concurring opinion.
c. One justice will write a dissenting opinion
If there is a majority decision, each justice can write
his/her own decision or the Chief Justice can select one student
to write the majority opinion (this is up to
In preparing their cases, lawyers should consider:
What does each side (party) want?
b. Which arguments would be most persuasive for
c. What are the legal precedents and
how do they influence this particular
successful in previous cases)
d. What might be the consequences if
the justices choose your position?
In deciding the case, justices should consider:
b. Reference to court precedents
c. Their personal ideology
Possible outcomes of the appellate court. Justices may:
Reverse the lower court’s
decision and remand the case
for a new trial
b. Reverse the decision of
the lower court and render
a judgment that
they believe the
have handed down.
c. Affirm the decision of
the lower court (they found
lower court’s decision).
Court Instructions” to the students (hand-out A).
Students can number off by four’s or draw cards. If
students draw cards, use the following procedure:
Cards King, Queen and Jack are justices
Numbers Red= Attorney for Petitioner
Numbers Black= Attorney for Respondent
teacher must prepare the cards so that the teams
turn out correctly.
number of justices can be adapted to accommodate classes
larger than 28.
2: (2 periods) Explore possible cases for moot court.
1. Students will work with their teams to investigate
cases that have been appealed to gain an understanding
types of cases heard by appellate justices.
Tell students they will investigate cases that have been
appealed to the federal Courts
94 federal districts are divided into 12
circuits, each having a Court of Appeals. Using the map
at http://www.uscourts.gov/images/CircuitMap.pdf assign each team, 3
regional circuits to investigate. Suggested
Team A: 1, 2, 3 and 12 Team C: 7, 8
Team B: 4, 5, 6 and D.C. Team D: 9,10
Students should be given the following instructions when
they go to the computer
You and your team will work together to search for cases
that have been appealed
to courts within
b. To search for cases within your circuit:
to: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/casesummary/index.html select “environmental
law” under legal topic. Click “search”.
Record the following information to take back to
Name of Case and Date of appeal
ii. Location: Where does the case take place? And
iii. What was the issue?
As you conduct your search also look for cases
that your team may want to use
for the moot court
issue and contain sufficient background
information to complete the moot
court assignment. Record the names of
your top 3 choices on a sheet of paper (name
of case; U.S. v. Templeton)
Meet with your team to discuss the cases you looked
at and turn
in your team’s
top three choices by the end of the period.
The teacher should look over the cases to make sure
that there are no duplications among teams. If possible,
each team their first choice; making
sure that the case deals with an environmental health
issue and provides enough background material for them
to use in preparing
briefs and oral arguments.
2 (part 2) (one period)
1. Post a large map of the United States in front of the
Provide each team with straight pins (if possible pins
with different colored heads so that each team has a
color for each circuit).
Have each team place a pin for each case they found within
their circuit on the map
in the appropriate geographic
Ask the class to look for patterns. In what regions are
most of the cases appealed? What inferences
Give each team sheets of butcher paper and markers. On
each sheet of butcher paper have students
of the circuit appeals court and then list the names
and types of cases that were heard by that court.
Circuit 8 (U.S. v. Templeton-Clean Water Act). Each
group will share their findings with the rest of
After all of the groups have presented ask the class
to comment on any additional patterns that
there any issues that are more common in one region
than another? Are there any regions of the country
to have more litigation cases than others? Why
do they think
The teacher should conclude the lesson by assigning the cases that each group
will use for their moot court activity. Tell students that they should
read the background of their assigned case. Tell them to not to focus
on the appeals court’s actual decision as they are going to argue
their own case before a different group of justices and therefore may
get a different decision.
Lawyers must write briefs using the guidelines listed in Handout A and bring
2 copies (one for the justices and one for the teacher) to class prior
to their assigned moot court date. The deadline should be 4-5 days prior
to the moot court so that the justices have time to read the briefs and
prepare questions for the oral arguments.