THE HEISLER MOOT COURT AND THE ACLU: A BRIEF HISTORY

By: Michelle A. Welsh

After acclaimed civil rights lawyer Francis Heisler died in 1984, donations in his honor poured into the Monterey County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union where Heisler had served for many years as a volunteer attorney and a member of the Board of Directors.  At the invitation of the ACLU, Monterey College of Law Dean Marian Penn met with members of the ACLU Board, including MCL alumni Michelle Welsh and Katherine Stoner, to identify a a way to use the Heisler donations to benefit the students of Monterey College of Law and keep Francis Heisler’s memory and his work for civil liberties alive.  From these early brainstorming sessions, the Heisler Moot Court was born.

The “Heisler” would be no ordinary law school moot court.  It was designed from the inception to be a community event that would engage MCL students and the public in debate and dialog on the most pressing constitutional issues and dilemmas of the day . . . the type that Francis Heisler himself would have enjoyed. The judges for the moot court would be a panel of sitting Justices of the Courts of Appeal or Supreme Court and moderated by Superior Court Judge Richard Silver (now retired) who was a partner of Francis Heisler before being appointed to the bench in 1977. Judge Silver also serves as an emeritus member of the Board of Trustees of Monterey College of Law.

Now, over twenty years later, the Heisler Moot Court also serves as recognition of Francis Heisler’s wife, Dr. Friedy Heisler, a retired psychiatrist and a civil libertarian herself who, with the ACLU and her many friends, family and colleagues in California and Chicago worked to endow the Francis Heisler Moot Court Fund.  Dr. Friedy Heisler attended each moot court program as long as she was able, until her death in 1997.  The Heisler grandchildren have carried on that tradition.  Members of the Monterey County Chapter of the ACLU continue to support the Heisler Moot Court financially and also by attending each year.  The ACLU is proud of its role in founding the Heisler Moot Court and grateful to Monterey College of Law professors Michael Stamp and Joel Franklin, who serve as the program directors, and MCL students for making the Heisler Moot Court a fitting tribute to the work of Francis Heisler and the importance of preserving civil liberties in our generation.

The Heisler Moot Court

2015- Armed and Dangerous? Who decides?
Court of Appeal Justice Adrienne Grover, Retired Justice Richard J. McAdams, and Retired Superior Court Judge Richard M. Silver. Student presenters were Melanie Mesiroff, Tyler Wicks, Randi Haller and Rafael Serrano III.

2014- Prisoners’ Rights…At what cost?
Court of Appeal Justices Rebecca Wiseman and Joan Irion and Retired Superior Court Judge Richard M. Silver. Student presenters were Philip Candreva, Isabel Dees, Daniel Hollingsworth and Steven Patterson.

2013- Stealing the Truth: Leaks and the Government
Court of Appeal Justices Adrienne Grover and Maria Rivera and Retired Superior Court Judge Richard M. Silver. Student presenters were Sushila Commons, Rachel Mache, Michael Sampson and Dorothy Thompson.

2012- TRACKERS, PHONES, AND DRONES: Everyone Needs Somewhere to Hide
Court of Appeal Justices  Terence Bruiners and Stephen Kane, and Retired Superior Court Judge Richard M. Silver.  Student presenters were Ramon Campos, Kathleen Holland, Layne Buckley and Gerson Perry

2011 – Taking Shots:  Vaccines and the Constitution
Court of Appeal Justices  Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian and Arthur Gilbert, and Retired Superior Court Judge Richard M. Silver.  Student presenters were Chelsea Adeyemo, Jenny Barnes, Sonya Jifkins and Derric Oliver.

2010 – Persuasian by Fear: True Threats. Secrecy, and uncivil Politics
Court of Appeal Justices  Wendy Clark Duffy and Richard J. McAdams, and Retired Superior Court Judge Richard M. Silver.  Student presenters were Christi McDonald, Jennifer McNary, Steven Mudd and Ryan O’Connell .
2009 – Stop the Show-Regulating New Lows in Reality TV Court of Appeal Justices  Joan K. Irion and Rebecca A. Wiseman, and Retired Superior Court Judge Richard M. Silver.  Student presenters were Jesse Obrand, Deanna Trinidad, Matthew Bogosian and Margarita Mikhaylova.2008 (Fall)  – The No Fly List – No Fly, No Worry
Court of Appeal Justices  Betty L. Dawson and Steven J. Perren, and Retired Superior Court Judge Richard M. Silver.  Student presenters were Josh Powers, Dinah Sapia, Regina Gage and Jennifer Rosenthal.
2008 – Threat Level Normal – Speech and Violence on Campus
Court of Appeal Justices Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian and Steven  Perren, and Retired Superior Court Judge Richard M. Silver.  Student presenters were Scott Martin, Stephen Pribula, Gregory Carper, and Lisa Justus.
2007 – Enemy Americans- The Loss of Citizenship in the War on Terrorism
Court of Appeal Justice Rebecca A. Wiseman, District Court Judge Maxine Chesney and Retired Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Ronald DeHoff, Robert Greathouse, Christian Scott and Emily Trexel.
2006 – The Right to Bear Arms and Privacy – Assault on the Second Amendment?
Court of Appeal Justices Arthur Gilbert and Wendy Clark Duffy, and Retired Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Lynn Maddock, Judith Derenzo, Eric Fonferek, and John Maddock.
2005 – Putting Protestors in their Place – the New Face of American Political Protest
Court of Appeal Justices Rebecca A. Wiseman and Richard J. McAdams, and Retired Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Greg Carter, Maribel Peñaloza, Geoffrey Buckles, and Colleen Brokaw.
2004 – The War on Terrorism and Academic Freedom
California Supreme Court Associate Justice Ming W. Chin, Court of Appeal Justice Joan Irion, and Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Diana Rosenthal, Pamela Silkwood, Peter Hunkel, and Lynn Lozier.
2003 – American Enemy Combatants
California Supreme Court Justice Carlos R. Moreno, Court of Appeal Justice Barbara J.R. Jones, and Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Dan Bozzo, Deborah Howard, Jason Morgan, and Justin O’Connell.
2002 – Separation of Church and State – Faith Based Social Programs
Court of Appeal Justice Franklin D. Elia, United States District Court Judge Maxine M. Chesney, and Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Beth Cunningham, Anna DiBenedetto, Barbara May, and Kimberly Pryor-Nathan.
2001 – The Meaning of Marriage and Gender
Court of Appeal Justices Carol Corrigan and Ignacio Ruvolo, and Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Ann Camel, Paula Martinez, Molly Steele, and Marilyn Stevenson.
2000 – Free Speech and Violent Video Games
Court of Appeal Justice Daniel Hanlon, United States District Court Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James, and Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Emily DuBois, Lisa Nash, Charles DesRoches,  and Monica Hawthorne.
1999 – Human Cloning, Genetics and the Constitution
Court of Appeal Justices Nat Agliano (Ret.), Barbara J.R. Jones and Nathan D. Mihara.  Student presenters were Kay Brunson, Martha Spalding,  Jamyrson Pittori, and Robert Stevens.
1998 – Neighborhood Gangs and High Technology Surveillance
California Supreme Court Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar, United States District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, and Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were David Wright, Douglas Kane, Stephanie Hulsey, and Kellie Morgantini.
1996 – Subversive Speech on the Internet
Court of Appeal Justices J. Anthony Kline, Presiding Judge (Ret.) of the State Bar Court Lise A. Pearlman, and Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Eric Pesik, James Kelly, Sharon Kinsey, and Susan Freeland.
1994 – Gun Control and Commercial Speech
Court of Appeal Justices William Wunderlich and Margaret Grignon, and Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Lamorah Russell-Tripp, C. Scott Grace, Michael Robson, and Terry Barnett.
1992 – Mixing Religion and Music at the Schoolhouse
Court of Appeal Justices Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian and Arthur Gilbert, and Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Matthew Spiegl, David Gordon, Susan Nine, and Cheryl Weiner.
1990 – Abortion Protests and Free Speech
Court of Appeal Justices John Racanelli and Christopher Cottle, and Judges Richard Silver and William Wunderlich.  Student presenters were Sheila Alexander, Andrea Fortino, Patricia Kramer, and Nina Murch.
1988 – Drug Testing and Personal Liberty
Court of Appeal Justices Nat Agliano, Frances Newell Carr and Marc Poche, and Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Jane Bednar, Timothy Cleary,  John Gensberg, and Christine Gianascol.
1986 – Sex and the First Amendment
Superior Court Judge Judith Chirlin, United States Magistrate Edward Infante and Superior Court Judge Richard Silver.  Student presenters were Ken Buchert, Carissa Chappellet, Loretta Loop, and Carl Mounteer.