Cariello, Gocek Take Home Lile Moot Court Prize; Archibald Named Best Oralist

Third-year law students Christopher Cariello and Daniel Gocek were named winners Saturday of the 82nd Annual William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition.

In the finals of the competition — a Law School tradition that spans two years and involves more than 150 students — the pair defeated fellow third-year students Matthew Hanson and Lynzi Archibald, who was awarded Best Oralist.

"We're very honored to have won and we think we're lucky to have gotten as far as we did," Gocek said. "We put in a lot of effort, but we don't take any of it for granted."

As the winners, Cariello and Gocek will receive the Kingdon Moot Court Prize — a distinction named after 1966 moot court champion John S. Kingdon — and will have their names inscribed alongside past winners such as former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy '59 on a plaque to hang in Slaughter Hall. More

In the competition, Gocek and Cariello represented Don Draper — a fictional client named after a character on the television show "Mad Men" — in an appeal of a hypothetical murder conviction. The competition was judged by three real-life federal appellate judges: Barbara M. Keenan of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Eugene E. Siler Jr. of the Sixth Circuit and David S. Tatel of the D.C. Circuit.

"The judges had some really difficult questions, but also some questions that we hadn't considered, at least in the way that they phrased them," Cariello said. "It was a really tough, well-prepared panel."

In their hypothetical case, Draper had threatened to kill his ex-wife during a discussion with his therapist. When the ex-wife was killed in a manner similar to what Draper had described, the therapist cooperated with authorities and testified against Draper at his trial.

After the conviction, the jury considered affidavits by neighbors and the father of the victim before imposing the death penalty.

Daniel Gocek, left, and Christopher Cariello

Cariello and Gocek argued during the finals that the therapist's testimony should not have been allowed in the original trial and that the jury should not have been allowed to consider the affidavits during the sentencing phase. Hanson and Archibald represented the government in the problem, and urged the judges to uphold the conviction.

Gocek argued that the "dangerous patient exception" did not apply in Draper's case, and that the therapist's testimony was a violation of the psychotherapist-patient privilege. Cariello argued that the affidavits were hearsay evidence and that their introduction during the sentencing phase violated the Constitution's Confrontation Clause.

"The Moot Court Board works really hard to come up with a problem, and I think we all thought that this problem was a particularly good one," Cariello said. "It was really well drafted. The board does a lot of work setting up all the rounds and making sure things are fair and that things run smoothly, and they did a really good job getting judges and organizing all the events."

Gocek praised the work his opponents put in at every level, especially during the finals.

"It was a toss-up. I didn't feel certain in any outcome prior to them announcing it," he said. "Our opponents did a great job."

The judges also had positive things to say about all of the contestants at the conclusion of the competition.

"I sensed in all four of the lawyers today that they understood they were here not just to defend their client, but to help the court reach a proper decision, and that's a very sophisticated thing to say about appellate lawyers," Tatel said. "I congratulate the four of them for it."

Gocek and Cariello said the experience was a rewarding one, and helped them hone both their writing and oral argument skills.

"I think both of us in lots of respects improved a lot," Cariello said. "We definitely became better and broader researchers and came up with better leads to follow. I think we also found ways to say more with fewer words."

2011 William Minor Lile Moot Court Awards

Kingdon Moot Court Prize
Presented to the winning team
Daniel Gocek and Christopher Carriello

James M. Shoemaker Jr. Moot Court Award
Presented to the finalists
Daniel Gocek, Christopher Carriello, Matthew Hanson, Lynzi Archibald

Stephen Pierre Traynor Award
Presented to contestant named Best Oralist
Lynzi Archibald 

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