Jonathan Wilt L’20, Maura Hallisey L’20 Awarded Best Brief at 2020 Keedy Cup

The final two teams in the 2020 Keedy Cup argued McKinney v. Arizona, a pending Supreme Court case involving complicated legal questions related to death penalty sentencing.

Jonathan (JC) Wilt L’20 and Maura Hallisey L’20 (arguing for the Petitioner)—were awarded the prize for Best Brief in the 2020 Edwin R. Keedy Cup, Penn Law’s internal moot court competition. In addition, JiLon Li L’20 was named Best Oralist.

This year, a panel of three judges determined the outcome of the competition: the Honorable Pamela A. Harris, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; the Honorable Judge Richard J. Sullivan, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and the Honorable Chief Judge Juan R. Sánchez L’81, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

In order to make it all the way to the Keedy Cup, finalists undergo hours of preparation and research. Professor Jean Galbraith, and the Master of Ceremonies for the 2020 event, remarked on how highly skilled the finalists were, “Maura, Kayla, JiLon, and JC showed their mastery of an incredibly challenging set of issues at the intersection of constitutional law and sentencing procedure. They responded deftly to the many difficult questions posed by Judge Harris, Judge Sullivan, and Chief Judge Sánchez. It was a joy to watch such stellar oral advocacy.”

The final two teams argued McKinney v. Arizona, a pending Supreme Court case involving complicated legal questions related to death-penalty sentencing. Finalists argued 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.

JC Wilt was born and raised in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and received his degree in Philosophy. Prior to law school, he worked for four years as a financial advisor to public school teachers in New Jersey. At Penn Law, he is the President of the Mock Trial Association and a Senior Editor on the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. After graduation, JC will clerk for the Honorable Paul S. Diamond of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Honorable Marjorie O. Rendell of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Maura Hallisey graduated summa cum laude from Connecticut College in 2013 with a B.A. in Sociology and Film Studies. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, she returned there after graduation and worked for four years at an abolitionist history museum. At Penn, she is the Executive Articles Editor on the Journal of Law and Social Change, has participated in the Criminal Defense and Civil Practice Clinics, and co-directs the Pardon Project. Last summer, she interned in the Bronx Criminal Defense Unit at the Legal Aid Society. Upon graduation, she will clerk for the Honorable Anita Brody and then plans to pursue a career as a public defender.

Kayla Katz was raised in West Orange, New Jersey, and graduated summa cum laude from Yeshiva University with a degree in Philosophy. At Penn Law, Kayla has been a Littleton Fellow, the Director of Research for Penn Law’s Health Law Pro Bono Project, and a Senior Editor for the Journal of Constitutional Law. After graduation, Kayla will clerk for the Honorable Stanley R. Chesler of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey before joining the New York office of Sullivan & Cromwell.

JiLon Li hails from Basking Ridge, New Jersey and is currently a proud resident of Philadelphia. JiLon attended the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated from the Roy and Diana Vagelos Life Sciences and Management dual degree program earning cum laude a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in biological basis of behavior from the College of Arts & Sciences. After college, he worked as a healthcare management consultant for Accenture. At Penn Law, JiLon is co-President of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, has served as co-Tournament Director for Mock Trial, and is a member of the Legislative Clinic where he works for Congresswoman Grace Meng of New York. He has also worked for both federal and state prosecutor’s offices and externed at the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. After graduation, JiLon will clerk for the Honorable Lorna G. Schofield for the Southern District of New York.

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