Workshops will be held Sunday evening following registration to help orient participants to rules and procedures. In addition to the presentation of oral arguments, guest speakers, practice or demonstration rounds and workshops may be scheduled during the session.
Just as all Legislators at Youth and Government receive a Bill Book of proposed legislation, a "Brief Book" will be made available to all Attorneys at the session, which will contain a master schedule of events, list of all participants, and copies of all other participant's briefs. The hearings schedule will not be a part of this book, but rather will be posted by the Courtroom at least one hour prior to a team's hearing.
Teams will present oral arguments for both the appellant and the respondent positions of their assigned case over the course of the session. Preparing a summary or outline prior to the session that outlines the main arguments for both sides&emdash;and practicing arguments for both sides&emdash;is strongly recommended.
A limited amount of time will be available after teams have presented the assigned side of their case to prepare their oral arguments for the opposite side, but participants will need to already have a basic outline ready that they simply need to refine, based on their experiences during the first round of arguments.
As a rule, Attorneys will first argue the side of the case for which they wrote a brief, and teams in a hearing will either both argue from their written briefs or both argue the sides for which they have not written a brief.
However, if due to drops there are an unbalanced number of Appellant and Respondent teams, teams may be asked to volunteer to present their case twice or volunteer to present the opposite side first.
In addition to presenting oral arguments, all participants will be assigned a time to serve as a Visiting Justice. Visiting Justices hear a case other than the one they were assigned to argue, and need to reserve time to read the other case and review the confidential Bench Memoranda so that they can be informed participants.
Attorneys should report to the Justices' Chambers about 45 minutes prior to the time they are scheduled to serve on the bench. The Appointed Justices will use this time to orient them. At elast 30 minutes after the case hearing also needs to be reserved for deliberation when it concludes.
The Chief or Presiding Justice of the Supreme Court is the overall authority on all procedural matters before the court and in the courtroom. Any instructions from the bench are to be promptly followed by all present. The Marshall of the Court is the enforcement agent of the Court, acting under the authority of the Chief or Presiding Justice to automatically enforce existing rules and protocol without need for specific direction, and to carry out any instructions from the Justices. An adult advisor to the Court will be available to assist the Chief Justice and the Marshall as needed.
Admittance to the Courtroom
Any member of the public may observe the arguments of the Model Supreme Court from either designated audience seats on the floor or from the gallery (if Old Supreme Court Chambers are used). Observers must remain quiet at all times. The Marshall of the Court has the authority to maintain order in the courtroom and may ask disruptive individuals to be quiet or to leave if necessary.
Presentation of Oral Arguments
As noted earlier, a hearings schedule will be posted in advance. Teams must be in the courtroom and ready to proceed 5 minutes prior to the opening of their hearing.
Teams need to remember to bring their notes, a copy of the case, their brief and the research materials from the case packet to the courtroom. They may also choose to bring in their brief book or a copy of their opponent's brief as well.
From the perspective of someone facing the Bench, the Appellant team will always be seated at the counsel table to the left of the Court (on the same side as the Marshall) and Respondent team will sit at the counsel table to the right (on the same side as the Clerk).
There will be a lectern in the center of the Court from which each team will present their arguments. If the lectern is not located within easy reach of the counsel tables, a table will be set up next to it for the co-counsel to sit at (with any necessary materials) during the presentation.
The Marshall will time arguments. The team is timed as a unit, so the members may divide up their time any way they want. (The clock is not stopped while team members trade places.) Similar to the procedure in a speech meet, the Marshall will have cards indicating that the team has 10, 5, 3, 1 and zero minutes remaining. The Clock may be only stopped at the request of the Chief or Presiding Justice, and it will not be stopped simply to allow research on a question or to allow additional time to organize a presentation.
When time is called, the Attorneys must stop speaking immediately. They may ask permission to finish their sentence, which is usually granted. They should finish their sentence, and may briefly ask the court to support their position, but cannot make any more arguments. If they are answering a question from a Justice, they may ask permission to finish their answer.
At the appointed time for the hearing to begin, the Marshall stands and raps gavel. As members of the Court enter, s/he asks those present to stand, saying:
"All rise and give your attention. The honorable Justices of the Montana Model Supreme Court."
After the Court is in their places, ready to be seated, the Marshall says:
"This Court is now in session."
After Court is seated, everyone else may be seated.
The Chief Justice, or in the absence of a Chief Justice, the Presiding Justice of the Court will introduce the members of the bench.
The Chief or Presiding Justice of the Court will then announce the case; ask if counsel for appellant is ready, then ask if counsel for respondent is ready.
Only one person on each side will stand up when asked, and reply, "Yes, Your Honor," and be seated again.
When instructed to proceed, the first speaker for the Appellant's team will stand, move to the lectern provided (bringing relevant materials and notes), and begin their portion of the oral argument as follows:
"May it please the court. My name is _______. Seated to my left (or right) is my co-counsel, _______; we are counsel for (Appellant name), the Appellant before this court today."
Next they say:
"There the following issues are before this court today: (state issues 1 and 2.) I will argue (issue 1) and my co-counsel will argue (issue 2). With the Court's permission, we wish to reserve five minutes for rebuttal."
The first Appellant speaker may then, at their option, make a brief statement of the facts and of the judgment of the previous court that is on appeal.
The first speaker will then proceed with their introductory remarks and argument. Remember: The team is timed as a unit, so the members may divide up their time any way they want.
When the second appellant speaker begins their presentation, they may also say: "May it please the court," may choose to repeat their name, and then proceed with their portion of the argument and summary remarks.
The Respondents use similar protocol, beginning by saying, "May it please the court. My name is _______. Seated to my left (or right) is my co-counsel, _______; we are counsel for (Respondent name), the Respondent before this court today."
The Respondents may re-state the facts and issues before the court if they disagree with the Appellant's statements; otherwise, the Respondents may skip to their arguments and summary using basically the same procedures as the Appellant.
After the Respondents have presented their case, the Appellants make their rebuttal, provided that they have time remaining. A maximum of five minutes is allowed for the rebuttal, and only one Attorney may speak.
Remember, Justices are likely to interrupt oral arguments with questions at any time. When a Justice says, "Excuse me, Counsel...," stop speaking immediately and listen to the question.
Watch the Marshall for time. When time is called, conclude immediately, as described earlier.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Chief or Presiding Justice will say , "Thank you Counsel. We will take the matter under advisement," and adjourn the hearing by saying, "This hearing is adjourned."
The Marshall will again say. "All Rise," and everyone in the room will stand as the Court exits the courtroom.
Judges make no decision on the case at the time of the hearing. They adjourn to their conference room to discuss the case, making a decision that will be announced later.
The hearings schedule for the Model Supreme Court will state the time at which opinions will be handed down.