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Penn Law’s Annual Keedy Cup Finals 2020

January 15, 2020

Law School students prepare to argue in this year’s moot court competition.

The Edwin R. Keedy Cup Competition, named after the late Dean Edwin R. Keedy (1880-1958), is Penn Law’s intramural moot court competition.

Each year’s Keedy Cup Finals represents years of preparatory groundwork and participation in three elimination rounds. The four finalist students progress from round to round, having impressed the judges at each stage with their ability to prepare briefs and argue cases.

How the Keedy Cup competition works

The Keedy Cup Competition occurs during the spring semester and is open to all Penn Law second-year J.D. students. Students in the preliminary rounds write a brief in a pending United States Supreme Court case and argue the case before a panel of practicing lawyers and judges. Those who advance to the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds argue the same case before new panels of judges.

The top four finalists in the second-year competition argue in the Keedy Cup Finals in January of their third year. They brief a new case, and a panel of distinguished judges from across the country judges the argument before a packed house.

The Keedy Cup Competition is produced by the Law School’s student Moot Court Board whose members, working together, choose the cases, organize and administer the preliminary-round arguments, and prepare bench memoranda for the judges.

The Keedy Cup 2020

The 2020 competition is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at 4:30 p.m. in Fitts Auditorium. This year’s finalists, arguing for the Petitioner, are Jonathan Wilt and Maura Hallisey, while Kayla Katz and JiLon Li will be arguing for the Respondent.

This years’ case involves complicated legal questions related to death-penalty sentencing.

Case summary:

James Erin McKinney was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in Arizona. Acting on a petition for habeas corpus, a federal court vacated McKinney’s sentence and held that Arizona courts had to consider his history of PTSD and childhood abuse as mitigating evidence. The Arizona Supreme Court then reviewed McKinney’s sentence and re-sentenced him to death.

In this year’s 2020 Keedy Cup, the finalists will argue two questions:

(1) whether the Arizona Supreme Court was required to apply current law—rather than the law in effect at the time of McKinney’s original sentencing—when it reassessed McKinney’s sentence, and

(2) whether, under Eddings v. Oklahoma, McKinney was entitled to a new sentencing in the trial court, rather than review by the Arizona Supreme Court.

This year’s panel of distinguished judges are:

Honorable Pamela A. Harris
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Honorable Richard J. Sullivan
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Honorable Juan R. Sánchez L’81
Chief Judge - U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

More on the Keedy Cup

Watch the below video to find out more about the Keedy Cup moot competition:

RSVP for the final event on January 23, 2020 here.