The main purpose of the Ten-Error Rule is not to punish, but to make sure that Hastings students present a professional and competent work product. To achieve consistency throughout the sections, graders adhere to the following guidelines. These guidelines provide the consistency needed to achieve an equal playing field for all Moot Court students.
Final briefs must contain no substantive errors. Substantive errors include citing a case incorrectly with respect to its holding, reasoning, or precedential status. Graders have a certain amount of discretion in determining when a holding has been twisted so far as to constitute a substantive error. We want to encourage creativity, but clear errors must be prevented. The TAs and Professors work together to correct the student briefs and to encourage the students to be as error-free as possible.
Final briefs must have ten or fewer technical errors. Technical errors include: grammatical errors, incorrect spelling, improper capitalization, obviously improper usage of verbs, pronouns, etc. The same error repeated consistently is counted as one error. If, for instance, the word "Court" is improperly capitalized four out of ten times in the brief, there is only one error. A case that is misspelled or improperly abbreviated in the same way more than once, also counts as one error. If a case is improperly abbreviated, it is one error. If, however, a case is improperly abbreviated on one page and misspelled on another, there are two errors. For multiple errors to count only once, they must be "the same." Incorrect spacing in two different cites counts as two errors.
Types of Errors
- Punctuation errors: Obviously incorrect use of apostrophes, quotation marks, missing commas, or periods. Stylistic decisions concerning the addition or omission of commas should not be counted as an error. Stick to obvious rules of punctuation.
- Citation form errors: Citation errors may include: wrong page or volume number, improper full or short form, failure to abbreviate, or failure to provide a cite when one is required.
- Format errors: See the briefs in the Student Handbook for the proper format. Many format aspects of the brief are not controlled by any rules. For example, if the cover page contains the right information in generally the right places, there is probably no error. The Table of Cases and Table of Contents can be done in many different ways. Check format requirements with your Professor.
How to Avoid Common Errors
- Ellipses should appear as three periods separated by spaces and set off by a space before the first and after the last period (" . . . ").
- Quotations of fifty or more words should be indented left (indenting right is not allowed for Moot Court), without quotation marks, and single-spaced. The citation should not be indented, but should begin at the left margin on the line immediately following the quotation in double-spaced format.
- Failure to include page numbers, a citation, a conclusion, or any other necessary element of the brief constitutes an error.
- Two spaces should appear after every period.
- Right justification will result in automatic failure of the Ten-Error Rule. it would be unfair if the person who incorrectly spaces several times gets several errors while the person who makes it impossible to tell how many spacing errors they have made gets only one error. All TAs should warn their students of this rule.
Any comments or questions concerning the Ten-Error Rules are welcome. Please contact your TA or Professor at any time. Thanks for your hard work!