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Rules Questions

Questions pertaining to the Rules should be addressed to The NELMCC Board will provide Rules Q&As once a week to all team contacts via the NELMCC ListServ email. Rules Q&As will also be posted on the NELMCC website weekly. There is no deadline for Rules questions.


Q1: I'm coaching a team for the NELMCC. What are the limitations on my ability to assist my team? Am I allowed to edit the brief, etc.?

A1:  Please refer to Rule IV(A) and Rule VI below. I hope that they clarify and specify the limitations on the coach to provide assistance.

Rule IV(A) states in relevant part, "Only the team members of the Team who will actually be arguing may participate in writing the brief. The use of the work product of any person other than a Team member to prepare the brief is strictly prohibited."

Rule VI states, "No Team shall receive assistance prior to filing its brief, including research, writing or any aspect of preparing the brief. No Team shall receive assistance of any kind during an oral argument at the Competition or during any recess thereof. To maintain team anonymity, coaches may not communicate with their team during the oral arguments." Coaches are allowed to coach the oral arguments, of course, before the Competition.

Q2: Please advise on what color covers should be used for each party to the suit.

A2: You should refer to the 2014 Official Rules, which were revised as of October 7, 2013.

Q3: Once the briefs have been submitted, are teams allowed to practice with one another? Meaning, hypothetically, could the team from University of ______ hold a practice round with the team from ______ University just to simulate the experience?

A3: I direct your attention to the following provision from Rule II (A): “Use of Problem for other than the Competition. Schools may not use the current Problem for intramural runoff competitions or other academic purposes for the current year’s Competition; they may, however, use past Problems. Schools may use the current Problem, after completion of the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, for intramural competitions or other academic purposes, with appropriate attribution to Pace." 

As practicing with another team for the competition using this year's problem would be for either intramural runoff competitions or other academic purposes, it is not allowed. One of the objectives of the rules is to ensure that every team is placed on equal-footing, and by allowing two teams to compete to simulate the experience, it would be placing those teams at an unfair advantage as not every team has that opportunity.

Q4: I'm coaching a team for the NELMCC as an adjunct faculty member. The law school just announced that this week it would be holding a general moot court workshop for students participating in the various moot courts. The workshop includes a session on writing appellate briefs, but uses criminal law as the example. The law school wants to know if the Environmental Law Moot Court team can participate in the workshop. I know the rules state "No Team shall receive assistance prior to filing its brief, including research, writing or any aspect of preparing the brief." My question is whether attending this workshop constitutes help with "preparing the brief" under the rule. Because the workshop is at the end of this week, this question is time-sensitive.

A4: Your students are allowed to attend the workshop as it seems to have a general focus on brief writing rather than a specific, environmental focus that would provide an unfair advantage. I would just like to make it clear though that in no way can the workshop provide any direct assistance to the students' brief. For example, the students cannot bring their brief with them to the workshop for critiquing or feedback.

Q5: Page 3 of the District Court's decision is appended with a bracketed statement that no decisions made or documents dated after September 1st, 2013 may be cited either in briefs or oral argument. Does this also require us to omit any recent procedural history; for example, if a case was decided before Sept 1st, but has since been overturned?

A5: In response to your question, the rule that no decision or document can be cited in briefs or oral argument dated after September 1, 2013, encompasses any action, decision, or document that has been made, decided, or issued after September 1, 2013. So, in response to your example, if a case was decided before September 1 in a district court but then overturned in a court of appeals after September 1, the district court's opinion would be the applicable law.

Q6: Are teams allowed to use a map illustrating the area in dispute during oral arguments?

A6: As per Rule V (D)(4), "Visual aids are not permitted during oral argument." To answer your question, a map illustrating the area in dispute cannot be used during oral arguments.

Q7: I have a question regarding my team's preparation for the competition. Our understanding is that we must argue at least once each for Bonhomme, Progress, and Maleau. I also see that all three parties are going to be represented in the courtroom for each round. We're a little confused as to how that will work at the competition.

Since for any one issue two parties will be aligned, who would argue that issue at the competition. For instance, if my team is representing Bonhomme during a round, who argues the issues upon which Bonhomme and Progress agree?

A7: In response to your question, each team, regardless of whether the team is representing Bonhomme, Progress, or Maleau, is arguing the six main issues on appeal. While there may be some overlap in the argument if two parties agree on an issue, as you mention, time and time again, just because two parties agree on an issue doesn't mean that they have the same argument or the same skill at communicating it, which is what the competition's about. So despite the potential for two different parties to deliver the same argument, there's enough variability to accurately judge each team.