Detroit Mercy Law hosts annual Patrick A. Keenan Memorial Appellate Advocacy Competition virtually for second year

October 20, 2021

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law Moot Court Board of Advocates hosted the annual Patrick A. Keenan Appellate Advocacy Competition Oct. 15-19. For the second year, the competition took place entirely over Zoom.  

This year, the teams of students made arguments based on two criminal law questions: whether a forensic cell phone search for evidence of drug smuggling is consistent with the commands of the Fourth Amendment when the search is conducted at the border and is supported by neither a warrant nor reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and whether the evidence seized from the petitioner’s home is admissible under exceptions to the exclusionary rule. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, for the final round of the competition, Jacob Benson Dual ’22 and Matt Kelly Dual ’22 argued on behalf of the petitioner and Hailey McGillivray Dual ’22 and Katya Rowley Dual ’22 argued on behalf of the respondent. All four students are a part of the Canadian and American Dual JD Program at Detroit Mercy Law.  

Judges for the final round were Michigan Supreme Court Justice Brian K. Zahra ’87, First District Court of Appeals Judge Michael J. Riordan ’90, and Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford-Morris ’82. 

The judges named Benson and Kelly as the competition champions and McGillivray and Rowley as the runners up.  

Awards were also presented to teams and individuals for their brief writing and oral advocacy skills. The best brief was awarded to Juliana Smith Dual ’23 and Sisina Tucciarone Dual ’23. Fatmeh Cheaib ’22 was named the best oralist.  

The competition is held annually in honor of the late Patrick A. Keenan, a beloved Detroit Mercy Law professor who taught at the school for over 30 years. Keenan’s wife, Marge, their children, and other Keenan family members attended the final round.



Screenshot taken during the oral arguments round. 
Top Row (L to R): Judge Densie Langford-Morris, Katya Rowley , Megan Gayer 
Middle Row (L to R): Hailey McGillvray , Jacob Benson , Matt Kelly Dual 
Bottom Row (L to R): Judge Michael J. Riordan, Justice Brian K. Zahra



Screenshot taken at the end of the competition with the visiting Keenan family members. 
Top Row (L to R): Professor Julie St. John, Dean Jelani Jefferson Exum, Katya Rowley, Hailey McGillivray
Middle Row (L to R): Jacob Benson, Matt Kelly, Justice Brian K. Zahra, Judge Michael J. Rirodan
Bottom Row (L to R): Judge Denise Langford-Morris, Marge and Karen Keenan, Vince Keenan, Brian Keenan