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2023 Edwin R. Keedy Cup Winners

January 27, 2023

The spirited finals featured Casey Danoff L’23, Colin Clemente Jones L’23, Simone Hunter-Hobson L’23, and Omar Khoury L’23.

The Edwin R. Keedy Cup, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s internal moot court competition, is one of our most anticipated events of the year. This year’s finalists tackled a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County, Indiana v. Talevski.

Simone Hunter-Hobson L’23 and Omar Khoury L’23 argued for the respondent and faced tough competition from their opposing team, Colin Clemente Jones L’23 and Casey Danoff L’23. The award for Best Brief went to the brief written by Hunter-Hobson and Khoury, and Jones was named Best Oralist, earning praise from the judges for his well-organized rebuttal.

Simone Hunter-Hobson L'23 delivering oral arguments. Simone Hunter-Hobson L’23 delivering oral arguments.Hunter-Hobson reflected on how she felt delivering oral arguments before a packed house.

“Appellate litigators always say that oral arguments should be more like a conversation. Despite the judges’ tough questions, I almost forgot about the Keedy crowd and felt like I was having a natural dialogue with the judges,” she said. “This experience solidified my interest in pursuing appellate litigation in my career.”

Khoury, Hunter-Hobson’s teammate and fellow Keedy Cup winner, said the experience demonstrated the connections between law and individuals. “Seeing how the case developed from an underlying story about the violation of a person’s rights into our arguments, which sought to fit that story into a broader legal landscape, gave me a unique perspective into the human element of the law.”

The 2023 competition was judged by the Honorable Paul S. Diamond L’77 and the Honorable Karen S. Marston, both of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Justice Melissa Hart of the Colorado Supreme Court. The panel probed both teams’ arguments with numerous difficult, nearly combative questions designed to elicit the finalists’ oral advocacy skills and test their knowledge of case law.

“After so much preparation — practice sessions and moots — it really came down to what I knew confidently,” Danoff said, reflecting on her experience. “It was interesting to dissect an easily overlooked case that involved several fascinating issues with broad implications. Overall, it was a great opportunity that, despite being scary, was also very fun. My teammates and opposing counsel were wonderful, and I was so proud to be up there with them.”

Once finalists completed their arguments and after the judges retired to deliberate, the audience showered the finalists with well-earned applause and cheers. Jones noted how supportive and encouraging the Penn Carey Law community was throughout the Keedy Cup, which is named for Edwin R. Keedy, who served as dean of the Law School during World War II.

Colin Clemente Jones L'23 delivering his rebuttal. Colin Clemente Jones L’23 delivering his rebuttal.“Even though it’s technically a competition, there was a spirit of camaraderie among the finalists. We were all more interested in doing good work and having a good experience than in just winning,” he said. “Judge Bibas and our Appellate Advocacy professors — Matthew Duncan, Legal Practice Skills Senior Lecturer; Alicia Hickok, Lecturer in Law; Nilam Sanghvi, Adjunct Professor of Law; and Brett Sweitzer L’98, Lecturer in Law — were incredibly generous in helping both teams moot and prepare for the finals.”

After a brief pause, the judges returned to deliver constructive critiques of the participants’ oral skills and brief writing; all finalists earned high praise for demonstrating exceptional skill and passion for the issues at question in the case. Finalists and their friends and family celebrated at a reception immediately following the awarding of the Keedy Cup.

“We were thrilled to be back in person for the first time in three years,” said Gayle Gowen L’98, Legal Practice Skills Senior Lecturer; Director, Moot Court and LLM Practice Skills. “Our Moot Court Board, led by Board Chair Matt Nelson L’23, did a fantastic job putting on a wonderful night. Congratulations to Casey, Simone, Colin, and Omar, who showed off their excellent advocacy skills!”

The Case: Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County, Indiana v. Talevski

Gorgi Talevski was a resident with dementia in the long-term care facility Valparaiso Care and Rehabilitation (VCR). His daughter sued VCR under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Federal Nursing Home Amendments Act (FNHRA), alleging that VCR violated Gorgi’s right to be free from chemical restraints and his rights related to resident transfer and discharge procedures. The nursing home denies that the FNHRA created a private right of action for deprivation of rights pursuant to § 1983, thereby discrediting the legal footing of the lawsuit.

At issue were two matters: (1) Whether the Supreme Court should reexamine its precedent that Spending Clause legislation creates privately enforceable rights for money damages under § 1983, and (2) assuming that a private right of action ever exists for such legislation, does the FNHRA create a private right of action for violations of its transfer and medication rules?

In May 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari, following the 7th Circuit’s reversal of the Northern District of Indiana’s judgment and its denial for a petition for panel and an en banc rehearing. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on November 8, 2022.

Learn more about advocacy competitions at Penn Carey Law.