Judicial Overview To be successful as a Court of Appeals participant

Judicial Overview
To be successful as a Court of Appeals participant, there are some basic things you need to
There are 3 requirements for Judicial participants:
 Submit one brief for each case (total of 2 briefs) online
 Attend the Pre-Conference on December 14th or 15th, 2013 (Find out from
your delegation advisor about which Pre-Conference your delegation will
 Attend the YMCA NC Youth Legislature February 6th-9th, 2013, bringing with
you the final drafts of your briefs
As a Judicial participant, you will serve in several different roles at the conference:
As an Attorney, you will work solo or with a partner to write briefs and make
oral arguments before an appellate court. A brief is simply a written argument
similar to a research paper, but much shorter. Each attorney or attorney team
will also make oral arguments where you will represent a party that is either
appealing a decision (seeking a reversal of a previously made decision) or
opposing an appeal (seeking affirmation of a previously made decision). More
than likely you will represent one of each
As a Judge, you will serve on a panel with the Associate Justice presiding over
that specific courtroom. Each judge will be responsible for reading the parties’
briefs, preparing for and participating in oral arguments, deliberating, and
helping to issue a final decision
As a Juror, you will watch the Mock Trial teams debate, and make a final
decision as to whether or not the state met the burden of proof for their case.
If selected as a Mock Trial participant, you will serve as either an attorney or
a witness, and try a criminal case to determine the guilt or innocence of a
defendant. The Mock Trial program is for the select judicial elite, as it requires
years of experience and excellence for admittance.
By the time the conference rolls around, you should have experience with the
following procedures:
Understanding how to read a case and use case law. (November/December)
Writing briefs (December/January)
Presenting an argument (January)
While at the conference, you will argue each of your cases in assigned courtrooms
according to the courtroom schedule. Each round will last no more than 40 minutes
for both arguments and feedback from justices. Each presentation is considered part
of an on-going tournament. By mid-afternoon on Saturday, Associate Justices, with
support from the Chief Justices, will make decisions on which are the top attorneys
are for each case. Once decided, the selected attorneys will present one final time
late Saturday afternoon. The winning attorneys will be announced at the Closing
Session on Sunday afternoon.
Court of Appeals Timeline
As a Judicial Court of Appeals participant, your goal is to serve as an appellate attorney where
you will represent two separate clients. At the conference you will have the opportunity to argue
your case in front of peers, learn about judicial processes, debate additional cases, and have fun.
However, to be successful at the conference you need to know what to do before that. So, here
is the timeline for a Judicial participant:
November 15th, 2013
This is the last date for online registration. When you register as a
Judicial participant, your advisor will receive an email inquiring about
your status, i.e. are you working solo or in a pair. All cases should be
assigned by November 30th.
December 1st, 2013
Applications to the Mock Trial program are due; you will be notified by
Pre-Conference as to your acceptance. All delegates who wish to
participate in Judicial are automatically placed in the Court of Appeals,
and no acceptance to Mock Trial is guaranteed.
December 14th-15th, 2013
The Pre-Conference is a required one-day event for all participants. At
this event, you will receive your cases and case law, learn how to write
a brief, learn speaking and debate tactics, work in small groups to nail
down court procedures, and work with your assigned Associate Justice
to get ready for Conference. Please see your delegation advisor to
determine which Pre-Conference your delegation will be attending.
January 6th, 2013
Briefs are due by 11:59 pm online to receive feedback from Associate
Justices. You must submit your brief by this date if you wish to receive
January 20th, 2013
Final drafts of briefs are due by 11:59 pm online. You (or you and your
partner) must submit four briefs, one for both sides of each case, in
order to attend conference. Briefs must be resubmitted if they have
been altered since you originally submitted them for feedback.
Jan./Feb., 2013
This is your final time for prep. Your primary focus will be to firm up
your oral arguments and present your case with your delegation to get
feedback, as well as ask any final procedural questions of justices
before arriving at Conference.
Feb. 6th-9th, 2013
YMCA NC YOUTH LEGISLATURE!!! This is where you get to put all of
your hard work and preparation into practice.
Reading a Case
In the appellate courts, there are no facts to be decided, no jury, and no witnesses. The
difference between the lower courts and appellate courts is that while there isn’t a dispute
about the facts of the case, the disagreement is in how the law was interpreted and applied
to the facts. The attorneys argue how they feel the law should be interpreted and applied
to a panel of judges. The judges listen to the presentations, ask questions of the attorneys,
and discuss the case privately as a group. The judges then either uphold or overturn the
decision of the lower court. Judges are allowed to interrupt the attorneys to ask questions if
clarification on a point in the case is unclear.
Every case starts with a fact pattern. This is the chain of events that leads to the two
parties going to court. When a case is heard by an appellate court, it has already been
decided once by a lower court. Usually, the party bringing the case to the appellate court is
not satisfied with the decision of the lower court and wants the appellate court to change or
overturn the decision.
Once you’ve identified the fact pattern, you must then read the authorities, or case law.
These are other cases that may have been decided on similar facts in North Carolina or
other jurisdictions. Your job is to pick out the facts in these cases that are most important
to your case. Remember, it’s the way the law was applied to the facts that is in dispute, not
the facts themselves. The important piece is that the interpretation of the case agrees with
your position, the decision in that case does not have to be the same.
You will be given several authorities in your case file. These are the ONLY cases you may
use in preparing your presentation. Believe us, you don’t want to get bogged down in
research at the law library – we may never see you again! This will be more than enough
information for you to complete your work.
Don’t wait to get started on this! As soon as you receive your case assignment, please go
ahead and jump into the work of reading your cases and the corresponding case law. If you
wait until the last minute to write your brief, then you will either end up turning in your brief
late or submitting a brief that is not up to par. It won’t take a ton of time, however it will
take some effort on your part.
Sample Case
State v. Whitaker
A.B. Johnson and his neighbor Pat Graham have a flea market booth at the North Carolina
State Fairgrounds at which they sell electronic and video game equipment. Last weekend
they sold a large number of XBOX 360 and Playstation 2 games that they found at an estate
sale. At the end of the day Pat counted all their money up and realized that they had made
over $10,000.
As they were closing up shop around dark, Pat saw a customer from earlier in the day
walking through the parking lot. Pat remembered that the customer, a young white male in
his early 20s, had purchased Halo 2 and Madden 2005 earlier that afternoon and paid with a
credit card. As A.B. put some materials in their truck, the customer walked up and asked
them how the day had gone. Pat responded that they had had a good day and that they
were looking forward to a busy holiday season.
As Pat handed the banker's bag to A.B. for him to put in the truck, the customer pulled out
a small black handgun and began firing it at A.B. A.B. fell to the ground and the customer
grabbed the bag and ran off. Pat yelled for help, but A.B. got up and ran after the customer.
When she saw A.B. chasing the robber, Pat ran off to find the fairgrounds police.
A.B. caught up the robber and retrieved the money, but the robber was able to get away.
A.B. returned to the truck to find Pat, who had not able to find any of the fairgrounds police.
The robber shot A.B. in the right shoulder and the upper right leg, but A.B. was able to
continue packing up the truck as he waited on 911. A.B. assured Pat that his wounds were
minor and that he would be fine.
It was a very busy law enforcement evening in Wake County that night, and it took about
30 minutes after the shooting for both EMS and the fairgrounds police to respond to the
scene of A.B.'s truck. While EMS took A.B. to the hospital, the officers asked Pat a number
of questions about what happened. Pat told the officers in response to their questions what
had happened and gave them the information on the robber, including that the name on the
credit card he had used was Jimmy G. Whitaker. Pat was teary-eyed while she talked to the
officers and was very worried about A.B.'s condition. The officers took Pat to the hospital to
see if she could do anything.
When they got to the hospital, A.B. and Pat learned from the doctors that A.B.'s condition
was much worse than they had originally thought. As the nurses were preparing A.B. for
surgery, the police asked A.B. if he could tell them anything about the shooting. A.B. said
that he had known Jimmy's family for a long time, that Jimmy was the one who shot him,
and that he used a small black handgun to do it. A.B. died two days later as a result of the
injuries he sustained in the shooting.
Whitaker was later arrested and charged with murder and robbery with a dangerous
weapon. Before the trial, Pat moved away from North Carolina and left no forwarding
At the trial, Whitaker's lawyer moved to suppress (or exclude) both Pat's statements to the
police and A.B.'s statements to the police. The trial judge denied Whitaker's motion to
suppress and allowed the jury to consider the statements. The Judge based his ruling on the
fact that (1) Pat's statements to police were an “excited utterance” and therefore did not fall
within the hearsay rule; and (2) A.B.’s statements to police were a “dying declaration” and
therefore did not fall within the hearsay rule. Whitaker was convicted of murder and
received a sentence of life imprisonment without parole.
Whitaker appeals his conviction to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The issues on appeal
(1) Was the trial judge correct in allowing Pat's statements to be entered into
(2) Was the trial judge correct in allowing A.B.'s statements to be entered into
North Carolina Rules of Evidence 802, 803(2)
State v. Boyd (North Carolina Court of Appeals)
State v. Penley (North Carolina Supreme Court)
Davis v. Washington, (U.S. Supreme Court)