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Model Supreme Court

Introduction to the Montana YMCA Model Supreme Court - 2018

In the Montana YMCA Model Supreme Court, cases are developed which are similar in nature to an actual case that might be appealed to the real Montana Supreme Court. Youth Attorneys must study research materials provided and apply that law to their assigned case in both written and oral arguments. Youth Justices are selected who will study the briefs and listen to the oral arguments of the Attorneys, rendering decisions and written opinions on each case hearing. One or two Clerks / Marshalls are appointed to assist the court proceedings.

The Model Supreme Court Manual has been updated and is available on Regy.

Consistent with the guidelines for Law-Related Education recommended by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, the Montana YMCA Model Supreme Court program is not designed to deliver specialized legal education, but rather is intended to develop an understanding of the values and principles on which the legal system is based.

Cooperating with the focus of the YMCA on Character Development, the Model Supreme Court program challenges participants to accept and demonstrate the positive values of caring, honesty, responsibility and respect.

Deadlines 2018 (subject to change)

January 20: Cases and manual updates posted on YIG web site.
February 3: Court Case Assignments requested by Advisors.
February 3: Applications for Model Supreme Court Justice and Clerk / Marshall positions due.
February 17: Appointed Court Justices and Clerks / Marshalls announced.
March 6: Legal Briefs due (submitted digitally to email: [email protected])

April 6:  Justice Training in Helena.

April 9:  Bench Memoranda due (submitted digitally to email: [email protected])

Program Overview

  • This program is modeled on an appeal to the Montana Supreme Court. In other words, this is not a Mock Trial competition; it is somewhat like a Law School's Moot Court.
  • Participants who are Attorneys write a brief, present at least two oral arguments and participate as "Visiting" Justices for the hearing of at least one case.
  • There is no competitive elimination of participants. All participants are involved throughout the session.
  • At least two cases are developed. Cases are assigned to participants on a random basis.
  • Participants who are Attorneys write a short legal brief for one side of the case, with sides assigned randomly to participants to assure equal numbers. Samples and guidelines are provided in the Model Supreme Court manual.
  • Attorneys prepare to argue BOTH sides of their assigned case (though as noted above they are only required to write a brief for one side).
  • Initially, Attorneys will argue the side on which they wrote their briefs (usually on Monday of Youth and Government). Typically on Tuesdays, sides are switched, and Attorneys present oral arguments on the opposite side.
  • Participants are provided all pertinent research material for their cases, thus keeping the program fair to those who may not have access to a Law Library.
  • Attorneys argue their case in teams of two. This structure is similar to that of high school team debate, though participants in Model Supreme Court choose for themselves how to divide their time and work.
  • The position of Chief Justice is elected, and they appoint the Model Supreme Court Justices. Justices elected or appointed as noted above serve full time on the bench, and their numbers are supplemented by Attorney participants, each of whom is given the opportunity to serve as a "Visiting" Justice for at least one hearing (of a case they were NOT assigned to argue).
  • Two Clerks / Marshalls are appointed. These positions are allocated to participating schools in the same manner as other appointed offices.
  • Participants will do all written work prior to the session. No additional brief writing will be required during the session; however, Attorneys will develop oral arguments for the opposite side from which they wrote their brief.
  • Those attorney teams that write the best brief for both sides of each case (as judged by qualified adult volunteers) will argue their cases Wednesday morning in the Showcase Rounds.
  • An Attorney Team of the year award will be given, which is voted on by peers in the Court Program.

Program Guidelines and Participant Roles

General Information:

  • The Model Supreme Court is designed primarily for Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors. Freshmen are not prohibited from being Attorneys, but it is not recommended.
  • Participants must meet all deadlines for submission of applications and briefs. Under exceptional circumstances, specific permission for an extension prior to the deadline may be requested from the state office.
  • A "Brief Book" containing all submitted briefs is made available to Court participants when they arrive at the Youth and Government session.
  • Participants in the Model Supreme Court are to uphold the Code of Conduct and observe the general rules of the Montana YMCA Youth and Government Program.


Whenever possible, all cases will be heard by a Court of seven Justices, chosen as described below:

  • Only students who will be Juniors or Seniors may be elected to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (that is, Freshmen may not run for Chief Justice). The Chief Justice must have at least one year experience as an attorney or Appointed Justice.
  • Only Juniors and Seniors may apply to be full-time appointed, Supreme Court Justices. A minimum of four Appointed Justices will be selected, more if overall preregistration numbers warrant.
  • Appointed Justices will be required to prepare a Bench Memorandum on the cases they will hear, based on the guidelines and samples in the Model Supreme Court Manual.
  • The Chief Justice will appoint a Justice to be Presiding Justice while the Chief Justice is in deliberations.
  • In each case hearing, three to four individuals on the bench will be the full time appointed Justices, with the remaining "Visiting Justices" rotated amongst Attorney participants. All attorney participants will get to serve on the bench as a Visiting Justice for at least one hearing of a case other than the one they were assigned to argue.
  • The Chief Justice and Appointed Justices will develop the detailed court schedule for YIG, with the assistance of Court Program Adviser(s) and Clerks, typically on Sunday evening of YIG while the attorney teams are in training. The Justices will determine the schedule of oral arguments and Visiting Justices to assure that all Attorneys have the opportunity to argue both sides of their case and be Visiting Justices.

Attorneys’ Participation:

  • Youth Attorneys will prepare briefs and argue their case in teams of two. Team members may be from the same delegation or from different delegations.
  • Attorneys will have the opportunity to sit on the bench as a Visiting Supreme Court Justice for the hearing of at least one case (which will not be the same case they are assigned to argue).
  • Team membership cannot be changed after briefs are submitted, except as noted below.
  • If one member of a team cannot attend the Youth and Government session, the remaining member will be allowed to argue the case solo if they wish, or they may team up with another individual who also lost a teammate.
  • When they are not involved with the court program, Attorneys are encouraged to learn about the legislative process, such as testifying in committee hearings on bills before the Youth Legislature.

Cases and Briefs:

  • At least two cases will be developed. Attorneys may request a case, but the program may not be able to grant some requests.
  • Teams will be assigned to write and submit briefs (brief writing is explained in detail in the program manual) representing either the appellant or the applellee position, but not both. Positions will be assigned randomly and participants may not request a certain side. Guidelines and sample briefs are provided in the manual.
  • Participants will be provided the case and all research material necessary to prepare their briefs and arguments.
  • Each case will have two basic legal issues that need to be addressed. It is recommended that each team member take one of the issues to research and argue.

Oral Arguments:

  • Teams prepare oral arguments for both the appellant and the appellee positions of their assigned case.
  • Teams first argue the side of the case for which they wrote a brief.
  • Teams will not have to argue different sides of their case on the same day.
  • Preparing a summary or outline in advance of the session that outlines the main arguments of both sides is strongly recommended.
  • Teams will present oral arguments for both the appellant and the appellee 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 - and practicing arguments for both sides - 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 is an unbalanced number of Appellant and Appellee teams, teams may be asked to volunteer to present their case twice or volunteer to present the opposite side first.
  • A hearings schedule will be posted in advance. Oral arguments will take place in the following sequence, with the time limits below strictly observed:
    Appellant: 15 minutes
    Appellee: 15 minutes
    Appellant: 5 minute rebuttal of appellee's argument
  • Prospective attorney teams are encouraged to view the 2017 Showcase Rounds on YouTube to get a better understanding of how oral arguments work. They may be seen at:


The Youth and Government Social Media Links web page,


also has links to the Showcase Rounds and other Youth and Government proceedings.

  • Student Attorney Teams will meet with adult lawyers on the Sunday evening of YIG to discuss strategies for oral arguments. Teams should come prepared to discuss their side of the case and the points they plan on making during oral arguments.

 Appointed Officers:

  • Two Clerks / Marshalls of the Supreme Court will be appointed. These highly responsible positions will be allocated to participating schools in the same manner as is currently done with other appointed offices.
  • The Clerks serves in the role of Marshall and as an enforcement officer of the court. S/He announces the arrival of the Justices, calls order to the court, announces the case to be heard, serves as timer for the Attorneys and enforces Courtroom rules. This individual must be assertive, responsible and well-organized.
  • The Clerks sit in on deliberations, distribute the written decisions of the Court, record all decisions made, and otherwise assist the Justices as needed. This individual must be responsible, meticulous and well-organized.


Legal Research Guidelines

In the case packets provided to Model Supreme Court Justices and Attorney teams, all necessary and relevant case material will be provided for research. Facts of the cases are presumed to not be in dispute. Participants may not add to or change the facts of the cases presented.

Because of the geographic distances in Montana, not all participants have ready access to a law library or other outside resources. For that reason, participants are not to cite any additional material in their briefs or oral arguments other than what is included in the case packet.

This is not to say that Attorneys aren't allowed to pursue additional resources such as dictionaries of legal terms, guidebooks on brief writing, or manuals on the preparation of oral arguments. But they cannot cite or refer to any source as authority in their briefs or oral arguments other than the resources provided. Factual statements or arguments of law must be able to be backed up only by the resources in the case packet.


In 2017, for the first time, the court proceedings were live video streamed on the web. The two Showcase Rounds were also recorded, and they are available on YouTube at:


The Youth and Government Social Media Links web page,


also has links to the Showcase Rounds and other Youth and Government proceedings.

Prospective attorney teams are encouraged to view the videos to help better understand oral arguments and court procedures.

In 2018, we expect the court proceedings to again be live-streamed and the Showcase Rounds recorded and made available.


Montana YMCA Youth and Government Model Supreme Court Manual - January 2018


Case 2019-101-Spite Fences (Zip File)

Case 2019-202 Ways of the State (Zip File)


Case 2018-101 - Other Crimes and Restitution (Zip File)

Case 2018-202 Interrogation and Expert Witness (Zip File)

Previous Year's Cases

2017 Court Cases

Case #1:  Commitment and Involuntary Medication Case (2017) (zip file)

Case #2:  Family Law (Parental Rights) - 2017 (Zip File)

2016 Court Case # 1:  Marijuana

45-6-203 Criminal Trespass to Property

50-46-319 Montana Marijuana Act- Legal Protections

Armstrong. v. State

Fourth Amendment _ Constitution _ US Law _ LII _ Legal Information Institute

Gryczan v. State

Kyllo v. US

Marijuana Case

Montana Constitution, Article II, Section 10

Montana Constitution, Article II, Section 11

State v. Kuneff

State v. Long

State v. Malkuch

State v. Urziceanu

46-5-221 Grounds for Search Warrant

45-6-203 Criminal Trespass to Property

2016 Court Case #2: Snowmobile

Snowmobile 2016

23-2-642. Penalties.

23-2-654. Snowmobiler's assumption of responsibility -- duties.

61-8-101. Application -- exceptions.

61-8-111. State laws applicable on forest development roads -- enforcement.

61-8-302. Careless driving.

Camp Child Map

Y&G2016 Court bill HB 63 (1)

Fallon County v. State

Gryczan v. State

People v. Firth

Picou v. Gillum

Robotham v. State

Sate v. Rawlins

State v. Betts

State v. Campbell

State v. Nye


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