The 2023 Roger J. Traynor
California Appellate Advocacy
Moot Court Competition
The Traynor is excited to announce this year's problem:
Peter Prescott was a member of the University of Pacifica ("PAU") football team and kicked the game-winning field goal for PAU at the 2017 Serendipity Bowl. Nicole Pascal (also identified in the record as Jane Roe) was also a student-athlete at PAU. Prescott and Pascal dated from March 2016 to approximately October 2016. On January 21, 2017, two PAU students observed Prescott put his hand on Pascal's neck and push her against a wall. They reported this incident to the PAU men's tennis coach, prompting an investigation by the university. Prescott did not deny he put his hand on Pascal's neck and that she had her back against a wall while he did so; he claimed he did not intend to harm her and they were merely “horsing around.”
The university investigator who conducted the investigation found Prescott had violated PAU's misconduct policy by engaging in intimate partner violence and violating an Avoidance of Contact ("AOC") Order. The investigator submitted her findings to the Misconduct Sanctioning Panel, which is comprised of two staff or faculty members and an undergraduate student. The panel decided upon a sanction of expulsion.
Prescott appealed the findings of fact and determination of violation to the PAU Vice President for Student Affairs. An appellate panel at PAU found the evidence supported the findings, but recommended a two-year suspension because Prescott's conduct could have been “reckless” rather than intentional. The PAU Vice President for Student Affairs rejected the appellate panel's recommendation and affirmed the decision to expel Prescott, reasoning the sanction was appropriate under the sexual misconduct policy regardless of whether Prescott intended to harm Pascal.
Prescott filed a petition for writ of mandate in the Roger County Superior Court under Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5. The court denied the petition for writ of mandate.
Prescott appeals. The case raises the following four issues:
(1) Under what circumstances, if any, does the common law right to fair procedure require a private university to afford a student who is the subject of a disciplinary proceeding with the opportunity to utilize certain procedural processes, such as cross-examination of witnesses at a live hearing?
(2) Did Prescott waive or forfeit any right he may have had to cross-examine witnesses at a live hearing?
(3) Assuming it was error for the university to fail to provide Prescott with the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses at a live hearing in this matter, was the error harmless?
(4) What effect, if any, does Senate Bill No. 493 (2019-2020 Reg. Sess.) have on the resolution of the issues presented by this case?
The problem is based on real cases. Any attempt by any person associated with a team, directly or indirectly, to contact the attorneys or the parties, to examine the case files, including any decisions, opinions, or briefs in the real cases on which the problem is based is prohibited and will result in disqualification of the entire team.
The record can be found here. Good luck!