IIT Chicago-Kent to participate in the 2013 Herbert J. Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition

Thursday, March 21, 2013

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law second-year students Claudia Cortes and David McKenzie will compete in the Herbert J. Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition on March 23 at the Erie County Courthouse in downtown Buffalo. The tournament is sponsored by SUNY Buffalo Law School's Criminal Law Society.

Second-year IIT Chicago-Kent students Claudia Cortes and David McKenzie will compete in the 2013 Herbert J. Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition.
Second-year IIT Chicago-Kent students Claudia Cortes and David McKenzie will compete in the 2013 Herbert J. Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition.

The competition is named for Herbert Wechsler, a constitutional scholar, a former director of the American Law Institute, and the drafter of the Model Penal Code. At the time of his death in 2000 at age 90, Mr. Wechsler was the Harlan Fiske Stone Professor of Constitutional Law Emeritus at Columbia University.

The Herbert J. Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition is the only moot court competition in the United States to focus on topics in substantive criminal law. Problems address the constitutionality and interpretation of federal and state criminal statutes as well as general issues in the doctrine of federal and state criminal law. (IIT Chicago-Kent won the best brief award in 2001 and won the overall competition in 2004.)

This year, students will argue Doe, et al., v. Florida, a hypothetical criminal case before the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is whether a state legislature may constitutionally eliminate mens rea as an element of certain drug-related offenses and whether the availability of an affirmative defense through which an accused may establish a lack of knowledge of the elicit nature of the substance satisfies any constitutional concerns raised by the state's elimination of a mens rea element with respect to such offenses.

Team member Claudia Cortes is a second-year evening student who majored in political science with minors in Spanish and sociology at Elmhurst College. Cortes earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Teammate David McKenzie is a second-year student who earned an undergraduate degree in Chinese studies from DePaul University.

Founded in 1888, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is celebrating "125 years of distinctive legal education." IIT Chicago-Kent 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. IIT Chicago-Kent is the only law school ever to win the National Trial Competition and the National Moot Court Competition in the same year (2008), and the first school in more than 30 years to win the National Moot Court Competition in two consecutive years (2008 and 2009).

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