Millikin students sweep Moot Court competition, earn individual honors
Students from Millikin University received first place honors at the 2020 Model Illinois Government (MIG) Moot Court Competition held in Springfield, Ill., Feb. 27 – March 1. Throughout the competition, teams of attorneys argued before a panel of student justices and legal professionals and were scored on the basis of presentation and knowledge of the case fact.
As part of Millikin University's Moot Court program, students meet weekly with a faculty advisor to go over materials, formulate arguments, rehearse delivery of the arguments and practice fielding questions from justices. The program serves as a great opportunity for students to learn about valuable research, writing and to gain oral advocacy experience that will help with future legal careers.
This year, four teams of Millikin student attorneys participated in the competition:
Team No. 1
- Madison Burress, a senior double major in human services and philosophy (pre-law track) from Marseilles, Ill.
- Sophie Green, a senior communication major with a minor in Spanish from New Whiteland, Ind.
Team No. 2
- Gillian Beginski, a sophomore double major in political science and philosophy (pre-law track) from Mundelein, Ill.
- Emily Cotner, a senior double major in philosophy (pre-law track) and music from Sherman, Ill.
Team No. 3
- Nicole Scott, a senior English writing major with a minor in philosophy (pre-law track) from Shiloh, Ill.
- Mark Voskoboynikov, a senior environmental studies major with minors in philosophy (pre-law track) and communication from Decatur, Ill.
Team No. 4
- JaCarla Anderson, a senior communication major with a minor in English writing from Lansing, Ill.
- Johnathen Sumler, a senior philosophy (pre-law track) major with minors in psychology and Spanish from Chicago.
Following the first six rounds of competition, all four teams advanced to the quarterfinal round. From there, all four teams advanced to the semi-final round. The final four featured all Millikin students with the teams of Burress/Green and Beginski/Cotner advancing to the final round. The team of Beginski/Cotner took first place and was honored with the John Williams Outstanding Moot Court Team award.
"Our students did outstanding work both preparing for the competition and over the course of the three-day competition itself," said Dr. Robert Money, professor of philosophy and chair of the Philosophy Department at Millikin. "Our students worked extremely hard in advance of and during the competition to construct and deliver sophisticated legal arguments. The results speak for themselves. It is an honor to work with such bright motivated students."
In addition to the outstanding team performances, several Millikin students were honored with individual awards.
Nicole Scott received the John Williams Outstanding Moot Court Attorney award which honors the student attorney with the highest cumulative point total over the first six rounds of the competition.
"Moot Court was a really fun experience for me. This gave me the chance to practice giving oral arguments and studying case law prior to attending law school," said Scott. "Receiving my award was both surprising and validating. All of my hard work was being recognized and it was great to be supported by my classmates and to support them as well."
Emily Cotner received the Best Legal Brief award given to the student attorney who submits the highest quality and most well-written legal brief at the competition.
"I was shocked and very excited to have been able to win two awards," said Cotner. "It was also an incredible feeling to be able to debate some of the people I'd spent the last four years growing with. Learning that Millikin had quite literally swept the competition will be one of the memories I keep with me for a long time."
Gillian Beginski and Mark Voskoboynikov both received an Excellence in Legal Brief Writing award which is given to a student attorney who submits a high quality and well-written legal brief at the competition.
Johnathen Sumler was recognized as an honorable mention for the Most Outstanding Novice Attorney award. Sumler was among the first-time student attorneys with the highest cumulative point total over the first six rounds of competition.
"I was delighted to hear my name during the 'honorable mentions' period," said Sumler. "I am very much satisfied with the knowledge that I gained from this experience. It is always important to remember that what you learn can never be taken away from you. Pursuing every challenge, with a desire to learn, will always make the outcome of any journey more meaningful."
Sumler added, "The eight vigorous rounds of debates that I qualified for, along with the hours spent preparing for them, magnified my ability to achieve excellence. Moot Court will forever remain in my memory.”
Additionally, Parag Sachdeva, a junior majoring in finance and minoring in philosophy, participated as a student justice.
"Parag demonstrated mastery of the case file by presenting attorneys with challenging questions designed to test the strength of their legal arguments," Dr. Money said. "He also helped prepare our student attorneys for the competition by assisting in numerous oral argument practice rounds held on campus in advance of the competition."