Feature Story

February 1, 2023 | By Cole Hatcher

Three teams of Ohio Wesleyan students competed in tournaments during the national 2022-2023 moot court season, which concluded in January. Pictured with coach and professor Michael Esler are front row from left: Anna Court, Anna Nacci, Meredith Frymyer, and Courtney Brown. Back row from left: Joel Zachary and Mason Stickel. (Photo courtesy of Michael Esler)

Making the Case

Ohio Wesleyan Students Compete in 2022-2023 Moot Court Competition

Three teams of Ohio Wesleyan University students competed in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s 2022-2023 season, with sophomore Joel Zachary ’25 ranking among the best individual orators in the Capital Regional tournament, which included colleges from across the United States and Canada.

“This is the youngest group we have had in years,” said Michael Esler, Ph.D., moot court coach and professor of Politics and Government.

“Only one competitor had competed before,” Esler said. “Even for her, however, this was the first time competing live because all the tournaments were online for the past two years due to the COVID virus. … Although lacking experience, this year’s teams worked well together and developed solid presentations.”

Throughout the season, the OWU teams competed in three tournaments. In addition to the Capital Regional, the Bishops also competed in tournaments sponsored by the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and the Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit College of Law.

OWU’s 2022-2023 two-person teams were Meredith Frymyer of Ostrander, Ohio, and returning competitor Anna Nacci of Wooster, Ohio; Courtney Brown of Columbus, Ohio, and Anna Court of Galion, Ohio; and Mason Stickel of South Lyon, Michigan, and Joel Zachary of Los Angeles, California. In addition to Zachary’s individual achievement, he and Stickel also advanced to the round of 16 in the Capital Regional tournament.

“All of the OWU teams developed strong arguments and were competitive in the multiple rounds across the three tournaments,” Esler said, with the students earning both high individual and team scores.

“All the teams won rounds and their scores were close to their competitors, even in rounds in which we did not prevail,” he said. “Comments from the judges indicated that the OWU teams were particularly strong in knowledge of the case law and facts and in responding to questions.”

Each year, Ohio Wesleyan participates in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s annual competition. More than 400 teams compete in series of tournaments that run from October through January.

Students prepare during the summer and fall by analyzing issues raised by the moot case and supporting case law, preparing legal arguments for both sides of their issue, practicing the presentation of their arguments, and preparing to answer questions that might arise.

The tournaments simulate an appellate court hearing in which students present a legal argument and respond to questions from the judges. This year’s issues involved a claim that authorities violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures in arresting a suspect and the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment when the suspect was convicted and sentenced to a lengthy prison term.

Participation in moot court is excellent preparation for students interested in pursuing a career in law, Esler said, with law schools looking favorably upon applicants who participate. However, the team is open to all students, he said, and a significant number of students who participate do not plan to attend law school.

Students interested in joining the moot court team or learning more about OWU’s Pre-Law major are invited to contact Esler at mvesler@owu.edu.