The Committee is pleased to announce that starting in fall 2014 it is offering a Moot Court Program to counsel with cases in the New York Court of Appeals. Any attorney with a case in the Court of Appeals can apply and request that the Program “moot” his/her argument before a panel of 3-7 “judges,” made up of experienced appellate practitioners and former judges.  Following the simulated argument by counsel, the judges will provide the attorney with a candid evaluation, including the strengths and weaknesses of counsel’s presentation and suggestions for improvement.

This program will be a particular benefit to solo practitioners and counsel from small firms who may not have experience in the Court of Appeals or the opportunity to moot an appeal.  

This new program will be one of approximately seven in the United States. It is modeled on similar programs operated at four law schools, as well as programs run by the Indianapolis Bar Association and the Erie County Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Committee.  With the exception of Georgetown Law School’s program, each of these programs was started in the last two years.     

This program will generally follow the “unilateral” approach where only one side to the appeal will be heard, which every existing program follows with one exception.  Former Court of Appeals Judge Albert Rosenblatt’s NYU Law School course uses the “bilateral” approach in which both sides argue.  Consistent with this, we will take the first party to an appeal who requests a “moot” and require all participants to agree to a Confidentiality Agreement.  However, bilateral arguments will be accepted if both parties consent, and the judges will provide separate evaluation time for each lawyer.       

Counsel are encouraged to apply promptly once their appeal is calendared by the Court for a term session.  Unless a sufficient number of judges are available, the Committee expects to initially moot one case per term.  Copies of the Briefs must be provided with the application.  The Judges will advise counsel approximately 30 days before the moot argument which portions of the Record will be needed.  The moot arguments will be held approximately 7-14 days before the actual argument date.  Moot court sessions will be held at the NYSBA Bar Center in Albany, unless counsel and the Judges agree to an alternative location.  

The Committee reserves the right to reject requested moots based on the Subcommittee’s view that the appeal in question is not “moot-worthy.”  However, acceptance into the program will not be based on subject matter or the attorney requesting the moot.  The program is available to all NYSBA members without additional fee.  If you are not currently a NYSBA member, proof of application and payment of the fee must be provided – a very inexpensive “moot” considering all the other member benefits included.       

The Committee plans to expand the program to encompass Appellate Division appeals as soon as 2015, and to have the infrastructure in place so that moots can be scheduled throughout the State for the convenience of the participating attorney(s) and judges.

To obtain and complete a Form to request a moot argument click here.  To volunteer as a Moot Court Judge click here.  Completed forms, and questions, can be directed to the Committee’s staff liaison, Mr. Jean Nelson at  (or 518-487-5588).   

To read the Committee’s Report on the Moot Court Program, click here.