The judicial program in the New Mexico Youth and Government mirrors the appellate court which is the second string of courts above the district courts. The Chief Justice of the current session selects or creates a case about a local event that has passed through district courts and was then appealed to our court by either the defendant or the prosecution because they did not agree that the ruling was appropriate. This is the point where the students begin to take over. Each delegation will separate in to teams of two, these will be the attorney teams representing that delegation in Santa Fe in front of the Chief Justice and their panel of justices. The Chief Justice will create a portfolio of case law to support both sides of
the case presented, and the students will analyze the case and the case law and compose arguments for both the appellant, the person contesting the court’s decision, and the respondent, the person the district court ruled in favor of. The teams will also write a brief and submit it to the Chief Justice before conference, the date may shift due to changes in officers or conference. The brief will be on only ONE side of the case, but oral arguments need to be prepared for both appellant and respondent as the teams will be required to argue both sides in Santa Fe.
The oral argument for the appellant is 15 minutes long with a 5 minute rebuttal and 20 minutes long for respondent. The appellant attorneys argue first, then the respondent, and then the appellant finishes with their 5 minute rebuttal. The times are split between two issues within the case that the Chief Justice decides upon and includes with the main case. Each attorney in the team works on one issue, and the team splits the speaking time as evenly as possible. Rebuttals could be written partially beforehand, but the majority should be done during the respondent’s argument. There is a 2 minute span of protected time at the beginning of the appellate and respondent arguments where the Chief Justice and Justice panel cannot ask questions, but after the allotted time has passed, they can and will ask questions at any point in a team’s argument. Questions are not allowed during the appellant’s rebuttal.
For more information on how to participate in Judicial and what is expected, please click here.
For Judicial Rules and Procedures, please click here.
For the 2021 Judicial Case Materials (for practice purposes), please click here.