William H. Karchmer Moot Court Competition

D.C.-Area High Schools Participate in Moot Court at AUWCL

The Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project at American University Washington College of Law brought together local high school competitors in November for the William H. Karchmer Local High School Moot Court Competition.

The Marshall Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project mobilizes talented second- and third-year law students to teach courses on constitutional law and juvenile justice in public high schools in the District of Columbia. The Marshall-Brennan Teaching Fellows work with public school teachers, administrators, and lawyers to teach students their rights as citizens, the strategic benefits of voting, how lawmaking occurs, and other fundamental constitutional processes.

The moot court competitions teach students the skill of weaving together arguments about the law and the facts of a hypothetical case. For this competition, they argued a fictitious case about whether it is unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment for a school resource officer to search a student’s cell phone when there has been an incident of graffiti and possible on-campus drug activity. The U.S. Supreme Court heard a similar case in the spring, Riley v. California.

Sixty-five former Marshall-Brennan Fellows, AUWCL students, alumni, and practitioners from the community served as judges. The Honorable John M. Facciola, Professor Jamie Raskin, and Charisma Howell, deputy director of the D.C. Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, served as final round judges.  

"It has been fantastic seeing our students blossom as public speakers and lawyers-in-training," said Sarai Infante, 2L and Marshall Brennan Fellow. "Their level of professionalism in the courtroom reflected how seriously they took the competition and how seriously they took their role as attorneys for both parties."

Students from Ballou High School, Cardozo Senior High School, Dunbar High School, Wilson High School, and The School Without Walls will comprise a team that will represent Washington, D.C. at the Marshall Brennan National Moot Court Competition in March 2015.

"When we told the students about the competition, none of them were confident that they could stand up in front of a panel of judges and speak," said Trace Johnson, 2L and Marshall Brennan Fellow.  "Over the course of five weeks we were able to get the majority of our kids to a place in which they could speak with confidence and conviction in front of judges. We are very excited that we were able to get one of our students to the national competition, but I am most happy about the increased confidence that our kids have as a result of the preparation for the competition."

Participating high schools included: Anacostia High School, Ballou High School, Capital City Public Charter School, Cardozo Senior High School, Cesar Chavez Schools for Public Policy, Dunbar High School, Eastern High School, Paul Public Charter School, School Without Walls, and Wilson High School.