Detroit Mercy Law hosts annual Patrick A. Keenan Memorial Appellate Advocacy Competition virtually

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Screenshot taken during the oral arguments round featuring (top row, l-r) Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford-Morris, Katya Rowley, and Megan Gayer; along with (middle row, l-r) Hailey McGillvray, Jacob Benson, and Matt Kelly Dual; and (bottom row, l-r) Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Judge Michael J. Riordan and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Brian K. Zahra.

Courtesy of Detroit Mercy Law

The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law Moot Court Board of Advocates hosted the annual Patrick A. Keenan Appellate Advocacy Competition October 15-19.  For the second year, the competition took place entirely online over Zoom. 

This year, the teams of students made arguments based on two criminal law questions: whether a forensic cell phone search for evidence of drug smuggling is consistent with the commands of the Fourth Amendment when the search is conducted at the border and is supported by neither a warrant nor reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and whether the evidence seized from the petitioner’s home is admissible under exceptions to the exclusionary rule.

On Tuesday, October 20, for the final round of the competition, Jacob Benson Dual ’22 and Matt Kelly Dual ’22 argued on behalf of the petitioner and Hailey McGillivray Dual ’22 and Katya Rowley Dual ’22 argued on behalf of the respondent. All four students are a part of the Canadian and American Dual JD Program at Detroit Mercy Law. 

Judges for the final round were Michigan Supreme Court Justice Brian K. Zahra ’87, Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Michael J. Riordan ’90, and Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford-Morris ’82.

The judges named Benson and Kelly as the competition champions and McGillivray and Rowley as the runners up. 

Awards were also presented to teams and individuals for their brief writing and oral advocacy skills. The best brief was awarded to Juliana Smith Dual ’23 and Sisina Tucciarone Dual ’23. Fatmeh Cheaib ’22 was named the best oralist. 

The competition is held annually in honor of the late Patrick A. Keenan, a beloved Detroit Mercy Law professor who taught at the school for over 30 years. Keenan’s wife, Marge, their children, and other Keenan family members attended the final round.



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