8th Grade Moot Court


Dana Elquza, Contributor

On April 25th (first round) and May 2nd (second round), 8th graders participated in a moot court hosted by CRF-OC (Constitutional Rights Foundation Orange County) and did an amazing job!

The TRMS debate club, led by Dana Elquza and supervised by Mrs. Erickson, has been preparing for CRF-OC’s moot court for over 3 months. They came to the district court looking confident and ready to win, and their preparation paid off! 

What is a moot court? A moot court is a fake court at which students argue as lawyers in an imaginary court case for either the prosecution side or the defense side.

Students participating argued a criminal case this year that was about two college students who hacked into their university’s servers to steal exams in order to sell them to other students. They were suspects for the crime and were interrogated by FBI agents, but were never given Miranda rights. However, agents do not need to state Miranda rights to suspects if the suspects are not in custody. Students on the defense side argued that they were in custody and the two students’ confessions should be suppressed in court. The prosecution side argued that they were not in custody and their statements should be presented in court. They had to examine the two college students’ interviews with the FBI agents and research laws that support their case as well as read real-life court cases.

What about preparing for the moot court and presenting in court was difficult? What were your feelings when you arrived in court?

I think the most difficult thing about preparing for the moot court was trying to anticipate what the opposing team would say for rebuttals and what the judge would say for questioning. It was really nerve-wracking walking into the courtroom but also really exciting. I didn’t expect the courtroom to look like that, I really had no idea what we were walking into. I would encourage other students so much to participate in moot court, it was such a cool experience! I loved hearing about what kind of things the judges and scoring attorneys did in court and all of the different things you can do if you go into the law field. It really motivated me to continue doing it and I’m just super happy I tried something new and discovered something I really enjoyed. I’d encourage others to do the same. I would not have the desire to continue this throughout high school if I didn’t participate in this activity.” – Eva Benemie


Travis Ranch Middle School’s moot court participants went against multiple schools. For the first round, they were against Tuffree Middle School, and for the second round, they were against Sycamore Junior High and Thurston Middle School. They presented their arguments in a real courtroom with a real judge, which can be very intimidating! Students first presented their opening statements, which include the majority of their arguments, laws, and facts. Then, they received questions from the judge and had to answer them proficiently and on the spot. After, each student presented their rebuttals that refuted what the other side said. Students were scored based on the content of their arguments, presentation style, rebuttals, and responses to questions. Out of 25 teams, one of our prosecution teams, Eva Benemie and Taylor Saint-Onge, won second place for being the best prosecution team!

What are important things to do when presenting in court? Were you nervous; what were your feelings in court?

When presenting in court it’s good to keep eye contact with the judge as much as possible. I was very nervous in court, but in the end, I got more comfortable. My feelings were definitely intimidated by my opponents, but after all, they are still students and I reminded myself that if they could do it, I could do it too.” – Jazzlyn Jurado

The moot court was an amazing experience for all the participants and they all enjoyed it very much. The school is very proud of them for their diligence and dedication shown when preparing for this event. If you are interested in participating in any court case, or activities related to law, Yorba Linda High School offers a mock trial program. There is also a debate club at this school that you can join, and many other law-related extracurricular activities you can participate in outside of school. Congratulations on winning, and shout out to our participants! 

Prosecution 1:

Dana Elquza & Alexa Ruiz

Defense 1:

Jazzlyn Jurado & Claire Phee

Prosecution 2:

Taylor Saint-Onge & Eva Benemie

A special thanks to our debate supervisor and greatest supporter: Mrs. Erickson! Also to our debate president for preparing, coaching, and organizing TRMS to participate in this moot court: Dana Elquza!