Alex Halaska wins the Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Alex Halaska, a second-year student at Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, has won the 24th annual Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition, sponsored by the law school's Moot Court Honor Society. The competition is named for Chicago-Kent graduate Ilana Diamond Rovner, judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

 The Honorable Robert E. Gordon, the Honorable Ilana Diamond Rovner, and Illinois Solicitor General Carolyn Shapiro judged the final round of the competition.
Second-year student Alex Halaska (top, left) argued against second-year student Caitlin Ajax (top, right) to win Chicago-Kent's 2015 Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition. Bottom row, from left: The Honorable Robert E. Gordon, the Honorable Ilana Diamond Rovner, and Illinois Solicitor General Carolyn Shapiro judged the final round of the competition.

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 Chicago-Kent faculty members, practicing attorneys and experienced moot court students. The top-scoring students advance through a series of elimination rounds.

This year, students argued Evenwel v. Abbott, a closely watched voting rights case out of Texas that raises important issues under the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. For more than 50 years, the Supreme Court has adhered to a doctrine known as "one person, one vote," which requires states to create legislative election districts that contain roughly equal populations. This case asks what happens when a state equalizes its legislative districts based on total population—including undocumented immigrants—rather than on voter population.

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

Rovner Competition winner Alex Halaska earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy and political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Second-place winner Caitlin Ajax graduated from the University of Montana with a bachelor's degree in political science and Central and Southwest Asian studies.

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

Max Eichenberger, 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 Robert E. Gordon of the Illinois Appellate Court, and Carolyn Shapiro, the solicitor general of Illinois.

Founded in 1888, 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 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 United States, and are eligible to participate in the Ilana Diamond Rovner Competition.

Students in Chicago-Kent's Ilana Diamond Rovner Program in Appellate Advocacy have won numerous individual honors and regional and national competitions, including consecutive titles in the New York City Bar Association's National Moot Court Competition.

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