College of Law alumna and student assist moot court competition

College of Law alumna Rita Bustos and second-year student Erin Collins coached six students from the ASU Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy in a moot court competition held at the College of Law on Friday, April 13.

The Young Scholars Academy is a highly challenging and hands-on learning environment that integrates technology and advanced methods into the learning culture. Bustos, who graduated in December with an LL.M. in Biotechnology and Genomics, said the students on the moot court team ranged in age from 11 to 14.

Bustos plans to take the team to the National High School Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C., next year, but wanted to hold an internal competition for the students first.

The case the students argued involved a Fourth Amendment search and seizure issue, Bustos said. It took place at a public high school, where a teacher was putting away student laptops and read on a student blog that some kids were going to bring knives or guns to school. The teacher told the principal, who went into the class to search the backpacks, but found nothing. Later on, the principal saw a second blog post that they should search the student’s pockets. He found a marijuana pipe in a girl’s pocket and expelled her, and the girl sued the school. The students had to argue whether the search and expulsion were constitutional.

The students practiced for two months, Bustos said. Each of the students received briefs and documents about the case, and then prepared their own oral arguments.

Collins recruited judges for the competition, all of which were College of Law students. 

“The competitors were exceptional,” Bustos said. “These are really smart kids.”