Joseph Carlasare wins Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition

Joseph P. Carlasare, a second-year student at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, has won the 19th 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 '66, judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Students in the Rovner competition each prepare a brief in a case that raises an important 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, practicing attorneys and experienced moot court students. The top-scoring students advance through a series of elimination rounds.

This year, students argued Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, a case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is whether a state law restricting the sale of violent video games to minors infringes on the First Amendment right to free speech. Oral arguments were heard by the justices on November 2. A ruling on the case by the U.S. Supreme Court is expected next year.

In the final round, Joseph Carlasare argued against second-year student David Jorgensen. As the winner of the final round of the competition, Carlasare received the Ilana Diamond Rovner Award for Outstanding Appellate Advocate and a $750 scholarship. Jorgensen received a $375 scholarship from the Edmund G. Burke Scholarship Fund.

Rovner Competition winner Joseph Carlasare is a member of the Moot Court Honor Society and the Trial Advocacy team. Carlasare was a member of the Chicago-Kent team that won the National Institute for Trial Advocacy's 2010 Tournament of Champions in October. He also won individual honors as the competition's best advocate. Last year, Carlasare became the first first-year law student in Chicago-Kent's history to compete both semesters on the trial advocacy team. He was a member of the 2009 National Pre-trial Advocacy Competition team that advanced to the final round and the 2010 National Ethics Trial team that finished as semifinalists. Carlasare graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in political science and philosophy with a minor in economics from Loyola University Chicago.

Second-year student Margot Nikitas received the Fay Clayton Award for Outstanding Oralist and a $375 scholarship. 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. Her legal experience includes numerous trials, appeals, mediations, and arbitrations in tribunals including the United States Supreme Court. Justin Hagan, also a second-year student, received the Ralph L. Brill Award for Best Brief and a $375 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, judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Chicago-Kent distinguished professor of law and recognized First Amendment scholar Sheldon H. Nahmod; and Ryan Jacobson, a partner in the Chicago office of SmithAmundsen and co-chair of the firm's Entertainment, Media and Privacy Group. Jacobson, a 1999 Chicago-Kent alumnus, dedicates a large part of his practice to matters governed by the First Amendment.

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.

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