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Moritz Student Named Best Advocate at Criminal Moot Court Competition

April 7, 2015 | Students

3L Zach Neumann was named Best Advocate at the 2015 Herbert Wechsler National Criminal Moot Court Competition on March 28.

Named after the drafter of the Model Penal Code, the annual competition is the only national 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.

This year’s topic concerned a scenario where three defendants were found guilty by a jury of distribution of crack cocaine, but not guilty of conspiracy. At sentencing, a judge found the defendants were involved in the conspiracy and enhanced their sentences from two to six years to more than 15.

Neumann and teammate 2L Andrew Mikac wrote a brief for the competition describing the importance of the jury’s decision and why the right to a jury trial is protected under the Sixth Amendment. They then argued the position before a panel of judges.

Neumann said he felt well prepared going into the competition, having taken classes with one of the preeminent minds in sentencing law, Professor Doug Berman. “Let’s just say his blog had a lot of traffic leading up to our competition,” Neumann said.

When it was announced he had won Best Advocate at the end of the event, Neumann said it was a great feeling. “It was unexpected and hearing my name was pretty surreal,” he said, “so I was happy.”