Guidelines for Judging Moot Court Competitions

 

TEXAS UNDERGRADUATE MOOT COURT COMPETITION:  JUDGING GUIDELINES

Your judging guidelines should be independent, based upon each speaker's oral advocacy skills only, without consideration for which side should win on the merits.

Please be sure to mark whether the Petitioner or the Respondent won the round. This is very important because teams advance based on their win/loss record.

Your point differential on the scoring sheet is also very important because in the event of a tie, teams advance according to their cumulative point totals. Therefore, please avoid making the scores close if the performances are not close. Please be sure to complete accurately every blank on your ballot and sign it. 

Please note that there is a range for each category. Do try to give students scores within those ranges. Superior scores should receive higher points, and inferior performances should be lowered accordingly.

I. KNOWLEDGE OF SUBJECT MATTER 

1. Does the speaker give a broad but brief overview of his/her argument in the beginning? 

2. Is the speaker's presentation well organized, with his/her organization clearly expressed? 

3. Does the speaker have a thorough knowledge of the record? Can the speaker direct you to important language therein? 

4. Does the speaker emphasize the important issue? 

5. Does the speaker argue the heart of the matter adequately and is he/she selective in discussing issues? 

6. Does the speaker employ a variety of types or arguments (precedents, logic, policy, etc.) rather than relying on too few types? 

7. Are the speaker's arguments clear and direct? 

8. Are the issues firmly fixed in the Court?s mind when the speaker finishes? 

9. Does the student stay within the time limits placed on him/her, speaking NEITHER TOO LONG NOR TOO BRIEFLY? 

II. RESPONSE TO QUESTIONING 

1. Is the speaker responsive to questions rather than evasive or repeatedly unable to give an answer? (Some deferring to one's partner is permissible where such a question involves the other speaker's argument.) 

2. Is the speaker able to answer a question with authority, either theoretically or with case names? 

3. Is the speaker able to fit relevant questions into his/her overall analysis and presentation? 

4. Is the speaker able to continue his/her argument after a question? 

5. Is the speaker candid about the weak points in his/her arguments? 

III. FORENSIC SKILLS 

1. Does the speaker use correct pronunciation and grammar? 

2. Does the speaker use timely emphasis? 

3. Does the speaker effectively use pauses? 

4. Does the speaker's voice have proper volume and good inflection? 

5. Is the speaker's voice clear rather than inaudible or difficult to understand? 

6. Does the speaker employ "ahs," "ums," or "ers" that are distracting? 

7. Does the speaker use gestures effectively and appropriately? 

8. Does the speaker exhibit a professional stance at the podium (stands straight, avoids distracting mannerisms, etc.)? 

IV. COURTROOM DEMEANOR 

1. Does the speaker appear to be trying to be helpful to the Court? 

2. Does the speaker project an image of professional sincerity toward his/her client? 

3. Is the speaker forceful without being overbearing? 

4. Does the speaker talk to and look at the judges in a conversational manner INSTEAD OF READING A PREPARED TEXT? 

5. Is the speaker courteous rather than sarcastic, condescending, or resentful? 

6. Is the speaker poised and at ease rather than stiff and/or jittery? 

7. Does the speaker display the proper degree of confidence (neither too little or too much)? 

8. Does the speaker use all of his/her time but not exceed his/her time limits? 

9. Does each speaker being with "May it please the Court" and end with a specific prayer for relief? 



TUMCA ARGUMENTATION STANDARDS: STYLE AND CITATIONS

1. Each oralist should address the Court (i.e. "May it please the Court.") 

2. Opposing counsel should never be addressed. 

3. The second speaker for each side should introduce only himself/herself. 

4. Every speaker should pray to the Court at the end of his/her presentation. 

5. Then when the "0" timecard flashes, the speaker should finish only the sentence he/she is on and be seated unless the Court allows him/her additional time. TUMCA Rules strictly forbid an oralist to ask the Court for extra time. 

6. Secondary cases may be cited as often as a speaker wishes, but no research may be done on these cases except to check the facts of the case. Speakers are not only not expected to know additional information about secondary cases, but they are to refrain from researching such information. 

7. If a judge asks an oralist a question that is beyond the official TUMCA case packet (which judges are not supposed to do), the student should so inform the judge (respectfully), but may answer the question if the judge persists. 

8. Competitors may cite general authorities/dictionaries, and widely known legal principles (e.g., nationalization of the Bill of Rights) even if these are not included in the TUMCA case packet.

Rules for Judging Moot Court Competitions

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