Alexandra M. McNicholas Wins the Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition

Rovner 2.jpgAlexandra M. McNicholas, a second-year student at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, has won the 23rd annual Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition, sponsored by the law school’s Moot Court Honor Society. The competition is named for IIT Chicago-Kent graduate Ilana Diamond Rovner, judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Students in the Rovner Competition each prepare a brief in a case that raises an issue of national concern as well as oral arguments supporting both sides of that issue. Students present those arguments before panels consisting of IIT Chicago-Kent faculty, practicing attorneys, and experienced moot court students. The top-scoring students advance through a series of elimination rounds.

This year, students argued Ohio v. Clark, a criminal case that raises issues under the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause. At issue is whether a teacher’s obligation to report suspected child abuse makes that individual an agent of law enforcement for purposes of the Confrontation Clause, and whether a child’s out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher’s concerns about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements subject to the Confrontation Clause. The case is currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States.

In the final round, McNicholas argued against second-year student Matthew Smart. As the winner of the final round of competition, McNicholas received the Ilana Diamond Rovner Award for Outstanding Appellate Advocate and a $500 scholarship. Smart received a $250 scholarship from the Edmund G. Burke Scholarship Fund.

Rovner Competition winner McNicholas graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs. Finalist Matthew Smart graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a degree in costume design and technology.

Second-year student Kyle Jacob received the Fay Clayton Award for Outstanding Oralist and a $250 scholarship. Fay Clayton, who graduated with honors from IIT Chicago-Kent in 1978, is a partner in the Chicago law firm of Robinson, Curley and Clayton, P.C.

Angelo J. Christopher, a second-year student, received the Ralph L. Brill Award for Best Brief and a $250 scholarship. Professor Ralph Brill, a member of the faculty since 1961, founded the law school’s groundbreaking legal research and writing program and its award-winning moot court program.

The final round of the competition was judged by a distinguished panel that included the Honorable Ilana Diamond Rovner, the Honorable Mary L. Mikva of the Cook County Circuit Court, and IIT Chicago-Kent Professor Sanford Greenberg.

Founded in 1888, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, a private, technology-focused, research university offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law.

Established in 1992, the Ilana Diamond Rovner Program in Appellate Advocacy provides training for students in IIT Chicago-Kent’s Moot Court Honor Society. Students in the program complete intensive course work in appellate litigation, represent the law school in appellate advocacy tournaments throughout the U.S., and are eligible to participate in the Ilana Diamond Rovner Competition.

Teams in IIT Chicago-Kent’s Ilana Diamond Rovner Program in Appellate Advocacy have won numerous individual student honors and regional and national competitions. In 2008, IIT Chicago-Kent became the first law school to win both the National Trial Competition and the National Moot Court Competition in the same year. In 2009, IIT Chicago-Kent successfully defended its championship in the National Moot Court Competition.