IIT Chicago-Kent wins the National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition

Monday, March 7, 2011
 The Chicago-Kent team of (from left) Bryan Bienias, Caitlyn Jones and Stephen Gardner, winners of the 2011 National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition
From left: The Chicago-Kent team of (from left) Bryan Bienias, Caitlyn Jones and Stephen Gardner, winners of the 2011 National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition

The IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law team of Bryan Bienias, Stephen Gardner and Caitlyn Jones has won the 2nd annual National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition. A second Chicago-Kent team, Jessie McKenzie, Kelly Silver and Britt Steinberg, won the Best Brief award. Seventeen teams competed in the competition sponsored by DePaul University College of Law and the Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation held February 25 and 26 at the Everett McKinley Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago.

This year's competition dealt with the recovery of stolen art works and the Immunity from Seizure Act. The students argued a case in which the granddaughter of a refugee sought to recover damages for the value of a painting that was looted and stolen from Austria during World War II. At issue was whether a federal law protecting art exhibitions from seizure bars a suit for damages and whether the equitable defense of laches bars an action filed 60 years after the artwork went missing.

Winning Chicago-Kent team member Bryan Bienias, a second-year student, earned an undergraduate degree in management with a minor in sound engineering from Columbia College. (Bienias also received individual honors as runner-up for the Best Oral Advocate award.) Teammate Stephen Gardner, a second-year student, is a graduate of Winthrop University with a major in economics and a minor in business administration. Teammate Caitlyn Jones is a second-year student who graduated from Boston College with a major in political science and a minor in Chinese. The team was coached by senior Moot Court Honor Society members Dan Basler, Elizabeth Kim and Megan Pekala.

After strong performances in three preliminary rounds, the winning Chicago-Kent team defeated John Marshall Law School in the quarterfinals and defending champions Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in the semifinals. In the final round, Chicago-Kent beat South Texas College of Law for the championship.

 The Chicago-Kent team of Britt Steinberg, Jessie McKenzie and Kelly Silver, winners of the Best Brief award in the 2011 National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition
From left: The Chicago-Kent team of Britt Steinberg, Jessie McKenzie and Kelly Silver, winners of the Best Brief award in the 2011 National Cultural Heritage Law Moot Court Competition

Judging the final round of competition were the Honorable William J. Bauer and the Honorable David F. Hamilton, both of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; the Honorable Mary L. Mikva of the Circuit Court of Cook County; and the Honorable Warren Wolfson, a retired Illinois Appellate Court justice and interim dean at DePaul University College of Law.

A second Chicago-Kent team comprised of second-year students Jessie McKenzie, Kelly Silver and Britt Steinberg won the tournament's Best Brief award. Jessie McKenzie graduated from Purdue University with a major in communications and a minor in law and society. Teammate Kelly Silver graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English. Teammate Britt Steinberg majored in English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The team, which was coached by Moot Court Honor Society members Grant Shackelford and Shannon Smith, advanced to the semifinal round of the competition.

Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, a private, Ph.D.-granting institution with programs in engineering, psychology, architecture, business, design and law. In 2008 and 2009, Chicago-Kent won the National Moot Court Competition, the largest appellate advocacy tournament in the United States. In 2008, Chicago-Kent became the first law school to win both the National Trial Competition and the National Moot Court Competition in the same year.

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