Thank you for considering helping us with judging oral rounds or memorials for one of the Price Media Law Moot Court Programme’s many competitions. We are sure you realise the significance of your task is a critical part of the overall Moot Court Competition. As an oral or memorial judge, you not only play a critical part in the competition but you also have a role in furthering the development of participants’ practical legal skill sets, which will can both have a positive impact on their future career. This guide will give you some important pointers about judging the oral rounds. Even if you are an experienced moot court judge, we recommend you spend some time reading over this guide.
Judging Oral Rounds
I Before the Competition
As a judge of the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition, you are encouraged to familiarise yourself with the facts laid out in the Competition Case and spend some time thinking about the conceptual legal issues raised in the problem. Commonly referred to as a Bench Memorandum, the organizers of the Moot Court Competition will assist the judges by providing a summary of the case and the legal issues involved. The Competition will resonate with the participants to a much greater degree, however, if the judge is able to bring their own perspectives rather than take a formulaic approach by referring solely to the Bench Memorandum. Being aware of the law surrounding the problem, will allow you as a judge to provide a more thorough analysis of the participant’s argument, and ultimately result in a better experience for both you and the participants.
In addition to being aware of the facts of the Competition Case, judges should be broadly familiar with the rules of the Moot Court Competition, which will also be provided to you by the Moot Court administrators. Judges are asked to attend a brief meeting on the morning of the Competition, to discuss the case, rules, competition schedule and answer any questions or concerns that a judge may have regarding their role and responsibilities.
II During the Competition
Prior to the Moot Court Competition, teams produce written arguments (commonly referred to as Memorials), and during the Competition will present oral pleadings based on the written memorials. Note that they can go beyond scope of their memorials.
This will take place through a simulation of a courtroom scenario:
Judges are encouraged to pose questions to counsel, score counsel based on the Oral Rounds Scoresheet and provide constructive feedback to the mooters. Thus, the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition allows participants to gain and develop practical legal skill sets such as oral advocacy and written legal argument that can have positive impacts on their future career.
As a judge of the Oral Rounds you will have three main responsibilities:
Ultimately as a judge the goal is to create an environment for the participants that best represents a court room scenario, while simultaneously providing a rewarding educational experience. In order to ensure that every person associated with the competition is treated with respect, it is important for judges to peruse the Fact Sheet on Implicit Bias.
III Introduction to the Competition
During the oral rounds in a Price Moot Court Competition, two team members typically argue on behalf of the Applicant, while the other two team members argue on behalf of the Respondent. As a participating judge, you will sit on a panel with two other judges. The lead judge, who sits in the middle and is commonly referred to as the President, maintains the order of the proceedings, particularly directing the oralist when to begin or end their oral pleadings. This is largely ceremonial as all judges’ scores carry the same weight.
In a Moot Court Competition the bailiff, also commonly referred to as the clerk, sits to the side of the judges’ panel facing the oralist’s podium and manages the administration for that round. All questions or concerns prior to the start or during of the oral round should be addressed to the bailiff. Before the match the bailiff will normally approach the team to collect the correct spelling of the names of the oralists and note the time that each speaker will take in presenting their oral arguments as per the Rules. During the oral round the bailiff will announce the entry of the judges into the courtroom (at which time everyone present should rise); announce the case being presented before the court; and when the Sur-rebuttal is concluded, the bailiff will announce that the court is adjourned. During the oral pleadings, the bailiff will also periodically inform the oralist (and judges) of their time by displaying a card when there are fifteen, ten, five, three, and one minute remaining. When time has expired, the bailiff will hold up card that says ‘TIME UP.’ As per the rules of the Competition, it is up to the sole discretion of the judges to grant the participant extra time. Judges are encouraged to stick to the allocated time and at the most, if pressed, allow one minute of extra time per team.
IV Oral Arguments
After the judges are introduced by the bailiff and have taken their seats, the president will invite the first Applicant to present their oral pleadings to the court. As stated in the Rules of the Competition, the order of the pleadings in each oral round at all levels of the Competition is:
Only two (2) team members shall present the arguments during an oral round, and the maximum time allotted for a team’s oral pleadings, including answering questions from the Moot Court judges and rebuttals may not exceed forty five (45) minutes per team. When assessing the participant’s oral arguments, judges should base their criteria on the participant’s Knowledge and Use of Facts, Knowledge of the Law, Structure of Argument, Quality of Argument, and Overall Presentation skills (Style, Articulation, Time Management). How the participant analyses the facts presented in the case, cites legal authorities, rebuts the opponent’s arguments, and structures and delivers rational, justifiable legal arguments are all critical criteria to consider when assessing the overall team’s performance. Additionally, judges should take into consideration how an oralist manages time as well as the style and composure of the oralist. The ability to present and adequately address critical issues within the allotted time constraints separates a skilled mooter from a novice. Judges should also consider how participants demonstrate clarity of speech, a high level of confidence, and proper court room etiquette. Finally, judges must consider the overall persuasiveness of the argument and whether it passes muster in law.
V Oral Rounds Checklist
In addition to the above responsibilities, judges must note that verbal or written communication between the oralist in progress of presenting a team’s submissions and the respective team’s counsel table is strictly prohibited. Speaking is prohibited at the counsel table, and thus team members may only communicate in writing. The counsel normally consists of the two current oralists presenting the same position on behalf of a team, and the third team member who argues the opposite position may also assist and serve of counsel. The coach is not permitted to sit at the counsel table, and no more than three team members can be off-counsel. Finally, team participants may not have at the counsel table or podium electronic devices, including laptop computers, mobile phones, PDAs, or digital watches. Teams are instructed to raise rule violations of this nature and others before judges deliberate on the result and the scores. Judges must be aware of this possibility and take this into consideration whilst deliberating. In the event of a dispute that judges are unable to resolve, please request to see the Moot Administrators at the earliest, who will be the final arbiters and provide guidance.
VI Style of Judging
Judges are expected to question and challenge oralists to seek clarification and assess their knowledge of the law. Judges are encouraged to adopt styles that they are most comfortable with. It is important to remember at this stage that the role of the judge in a Moot Court Competition is one that is meant to encourage rather than discourage – it is thus advisable to avoid the extremes and be neither very passive nor very aggressive. In essence, the role of the judge is to play an active part and test the legal dexterity of the participants on facets of the problem that you consider to be important.
The experience for teams is far more rewarding when a judge engages oralists with questions in a manner that provides an accurate simulation of a court room setting. Thus, judges are allowed to and encouraged to interrupt the participant in order to seek clarification of their legal argument. Some judges prefer to ask questions that require the participant to respond with a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ while other judges prefer to ask questions that require the participant to generate a more comprehensive response. These questions should not be meant to overtly challenge the participant’s argument, but instead should be forwarded as a means to assess the participant’s calibre and the quality and justification for their argument. Either way judges should be aware of the time limitations of oralists, and avoid engaging in lengthy dialogue which would not allow the oralist to resume the presentation of their submissions. We kindly ask that judges establish a balance and accepted medium that does not attempt to overburden nor intimidate participants, and is equally applied across all participating teams.
VII Other Responsibilities
Judges must ensure that they maintain teams’ anonymity by not enquiring which university they are from prior to judging their round. This is to ensure that there is no institutional bias that creeps into judging. That said, however, participants come from diverse backgrounds in terms of language, religion and culture. Judges must take this diversity into account while engaging with the participants during oral arguments. Language very often is a challenge in a Competition, and comfort levels in English will differ amongst participants. Native speakers should have the advantage over non native speakers. The emphasis at all times should be to test the understanding of the legal issues involved not level of english. While articulation is undoubtedly critical to such an exercise, it would be appreciated if judges made sincere attempts at putting the participants at ease and drawing out their understanding of the case. The Price Media Law Moot Court Competition has a strong policy against discrimination of any kind. Judges are encouraged to peruse the Fact Sheet on Implicit Bias to ensure that they are acting fairly at all times. In addition, judges must ensure that they are not seen to be favouring one team over another in any capacity, whether during or outside of the specific round as this would compromise the fairness of the competition. Judges are privy to confidential information and must not exchange such information (such as the Bench Memorandum) with participating teams, not even after the Competition ends. Although an important element of the Price Moot is creating a network of interested and aspiring scholars and practitioners, it is also key to the running of the competition that judges maintain a degree of impartiality and integrity.
VIII Scoring and Marking Participants
At the end of the oral round, the judges will adjourn to consider the arguments presented by the teams. An Oral Round Score Sheet will be provided to every judge to reduce the disparity arising out of subjective marking and ensure consistency throughout the Competition. Each judge should fulfill the Oral ROund Score Sheet separately and independently. Each oralist may be awarded minimum of fifty (50) points and maximum of one hundred (100) points in their oral argument based on the following criteria:
The score sheet requests that the judges select a number between 10-20 based upon whether the participant’s performance was Poor (10), Average (11-14), Good (15-17), or Excellent (18-20) for each category. For instance, if a performance was Excellent, the judge should select a score between 18-20; whereas if a performance was only Average, then a score between 11-14 should be selected. A sample score sheet for grading oralists during the oral round can be found at the bottom of this guide. This method to determine the winners of each match ensures that the range used by different judges is largely the same, and subjective marking is kept to a minimum. Judges are also encouraged to write down constructive feedback that they may have in relation to each oralist, as the participants receive copies of the scoresheets to ensure transparency across the Moot Court Competition. In the event of a discrepancy in the scoresheet, judges may be contacted to clarify their marking by the Moot Administrators.
IX Deliberation and Feedback
After the conclusion of oral argument, teams will leave the room and judges will deliberate on the result of the round. While the judges may consult one another regarding feedback to participants, judges are kindly asked not to consult with each other while marking the teams and filling out the score sheets. This is to ensure that there are three independent assessments of the participants’ oral presentations.
Following the deliberation, judges will return their score sheets directly to Moot Court administrators or person appointed by Moot Court administrators for collection of scoresheets, and only then provide feedback and comments to the two competing teams regarding their performance. This is to ensure that the preliminary rounds run on time. Judges should not announce the scores or the winner of the round (especially since judges also are not aware who the winner of the match is); enquire about the identity of the participating team; or make apparent through their comments which team has won the match.
When addressing the participants and providing feedback regarding the round, judges may begin by introducing themselves and providing a brief overview of their professional career. Judges may then provide comments regarding the teams’ performance. Some judges prefer to give general comments, while other judges prefer to provide more specific and tailored advice to each speaker. As the aim is to build an encouraging atmosphere, if a judge expresses comments concerning weaknesses in a team’s performance, it is advisable to accompany such comments with suggestions about the best method to overcome such weaknesses. Judges should be sensitive, however, to the fact that teams have made numerous sacrifices in their preparation and participation for the Moot Court Competition. Overall these comments are warmly received by participants because they provide critical recommendations for upcoming rounds, future Moot Court Competitions, as well as for their future careers in law.
This guide is intended to serve as a resource and provide insight and information regarding the roles and responsibilities of a Moot Court judge during the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition. If you know anyone who would be both interested and qualified to judge a Moot Court Competition, please share this form with them, so that we can extend an invitation to them to join us at the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition.
Once again, we are excited and honoured to have you participate as a judge in our Moot Court and hope you are looking forward to this experience. If you have any other questions about the rules of the Competition or your specific role and responsibility as a Moot Court judge at any time during or prior to the Competition, please feel free to contact the administrators of the Moot Court Competition at email@example.com.
***Last revised February 2019
I. Role and Responsibillitiees of a Memorial Adjudicator
The fundamental responsibility of a Moot Court adjudicator is to be thorough given the facts of the case. As a result, it’s essential that before grading the Memorials, adjudicators should spend some time thinking about the conceptual legal issues raised in the problem. Being aware of the law surrounding the problem will allow judges to provide a more thorough analysis of the participant’s argument, and ultimately result in a better experience for both you and the Moot Court participants.
II. Reading and Grading the Memorial
The Moot Court administrators will provide examples of past Memorials submitted by Moot Court teams, in addition to the respective scores and comments that were provided by past Memorial graders. This reference should provide an appropriate baseline for how to evaluate and score Memorials for a Moot Court Competition. One approach to evaluating the quality and extent of the research and analysis in the Memorial is to quickly assess both the Table of Contents and List of Sources/Authorities prior to reading the Argument and Submissions sections. When analyzing the List of Sources/Authorities be careful to examine the quality and relevancy of the sources/authorities listed and not the sheer quantity. Judges should assess the Memorial upon both the overall persuasiveness and strength of the argument, as well as how the structure and order of the argument strengthens or possibly detracts from a team’s overall approach to the case. In addition to the reference guide, a scoring sheet will be provided to grade the Memorials, which is intended to reduce subjective marking and ensure consistency throughout the competitions. The minimum score a team can receive on their Memorial is 50 points, while a team can earn up to a maximum of 100 points. Copies of the score sheet used to grade the memorial is available below. Upon completion of reading the Memorial and filling out the score sheets, judges are requested to email or fax the score sheets to the Moot Court administrators before the designated deadline. If you have questions at anytime about grading the Memorials, judges should contact the Moot Court administration.
III. Checklist for Grading Memorials
This guide was intended to serve as a resource and provide insight and information regarding the roles and responsibilities of a Memorial Adjudicator prior to the actual Moot Court Competition. If you know anyone who would be both interested and qualified to judge either the memorials or the oral rounds of the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition, we would appreciate if you would inform your friends and colleagues of this opportunity. Once again, we are excited and honored to have you participate as a judge in the Price Media Law Moot Court and hope you are looking forward to and will enjoy this experience. If you have any questions about the rules of the competition or your specific responsibility as a Memorial Adjudicator please feel free to contact the administrators of the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition.