Mia Rivecco ’22 Wins the 2020 Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition

Friday, November 13, 2020

Mia Rivecco, a second-year student at Chicago-Kent College of Law, has won the 29th 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, the first woman to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Rivecco argued against Ryan Muhlstock ’22 in the final round of competition. As first-place winner, Rivecco received the Ilana Diamond Rovner Award for Outstanding Appellate Advocate. Muhlstock received the Edmund G. Burke Award for Outstanding Oratory.

Mia Rivecco
Mia Rivecco '22

Students argued Torres v. Madrid, a case the U.S. Supreme Court heard this term that seeks to define physical force seizures. The case stemmed from a 2014 incident when two police officers approached petitioner Roxanne Torres without announcing they were officers as she was sitting in her parked car. Torres believed the officers were carjackers and sped away. The officers fired thirteen bullets at her vehicle, with two hitting her in the back. Torres took herself to a hospital for medical treatment and was apprehended by law enforcement the following day.

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable seizures, but the Supreme Court has only defined one type of seizure, which requires an officer to make a show of authority and the individual to submit. The question that student advocates debated was whether Torres was seized when she was shot, even though she was never under the officers’ control.

“I’m very proud of Mia, Ryan, and all our other advocates. Our advocates argued skillfully throughout the competition, making their case by deftly weaving together Supreme Court precedent, Framers’ intent, and policy concerns,” says Cherish Keller, director of the Ilana Diamond Rovner Program in Appellate Advocacy. “This semester presented new challenges, as we navigated the transition to arguing via Zoom together—and advocates excelled, proving yet again that great advocacy is great advocacy.”

A. J. Alston ’22 and Shaunagh McGoldrick ’22 both received the Ralph L. Brill Award for Best Brief. The award is named after the late professor Ralph Brill, who founded the law school’s legal research and writing program and its award-winning moot court program. Brill taught at Chicago-Kent from 1961 through late 2016.

Jacob Skolnik ’22 won the Fay Clayton Award for Outstanding Oral Advocate. Clayton, who graduated with honors from Chicago-Kent in 1978, won a major case in the U.S. Supreme Court, National Organization for Women v. Scheidler, and was a founding shareholder of the Chicago law firm of Robinson Curley until she retired in 2016.

The final round of the competition was judged by the Honorable Ilana Diamond Rovner; David Erickson, Chicago-Kent director of trial advocacy and retired justice of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District; and University Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus Sheldon Nahmod.

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 coursework in appellate litigation, compete in the Ilana Diamond Rovner Competition, and then go on represent the law school in appellate advocacy tournaments throughout the United States.