By Andrew J. DeMasters ’16
This year marked the 43rd Albert R. Mugel National Tax Law Competition at SUNY Buffalo Law School. Twelve teams from nine different law schools throughout the United States attended the Competition at the Erie County Courthouse. The Albert R. Mugel Competition is the oldest and most prestigious tax law moot court in the country. The Competition is named after former distinguished SUNY Buffalo Law School Professor Albert R. Mugel '41.
To compete, each student team must submit an appellate brief and take part in extensive oral arguments before attorneys and judges expert in tax law and practice.
Professor Stuart G. Lazar, the Competition’s faculty advisor, was the author of the 2016 Competition's Problem. This year's problem focused on two fictional issues pending before the U.S. Supreme Court: (1) Whether the retroactive application of an IRS Tax 'FILTH' violated the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution and (2) If retroactive application of the tax law is found to be unconstitutional, whether amounts paid under a False Claims Act settlement above single damages may be deductible absent an agreement between Evil Corporation and the United States Government.
Andrew J. DeMasters '16, the Moot Court Board's President, served as Competition Co-Director with Farina Mendelson '17. Mr. DeMasters and Ms. Mendelson organized all aspects of the event, with the critical assistance of Amy Atkinson, the Law School’s Director of Special Events and Managing Director of the Advocacy Institute. The Co-Directors wish to express their gratitude to members of the local legal community - alumni and non-alumni - who volunteered as Competition judges.
Two preliminary rounds were held in the morning to determine the top 4 teams for the semi-final rounds. The winners of each respective semi-final round advanced to the Final Round. The Final Round, a simulated argument before the Supreme Court, was judged by Randall P. Andreozzi '87, of Andreozzi, Bluestein, Weber, Brown, LLP; Sharon Stern Gerstman, of Magavern, Magavern & Grimm, LLP; and Hon. Mark V. Holmes, of the U.S. Tax Court. Hon. Holmes served as the Chief Justice.
At the Awards Banquet held at the Hilton Garden Inn, the team of Jordan Lamothe and Alan Fu from Duke University was announced as the Champions of the 2016 Mugel Competition. The Second Place team and Finalists, Trevor Hanzeli and John Maljiek, was from Gonzaga University.
Best Oralist Awards went to Jackson Butler from University of West Virginia (1st place), John Curtis from University of Oklahoma (2nd place), and Trevor Hanzeli from Gonzaga University (3rd place). The Best Brief Awards went to Competition winners Jordan Lamothe and Alan Fu from Duke University (1st place), Roman Alexander and Willie Biddings from University of Conneticutt (2nd place), and Abagail Wolf and Jackson Butler from the University of West Virginia (3rd place).
SUNY Buffalo Law School was represented by two student teams in the competition: Miles Eckardt '16 and Philip Barth '17 & Robert Zielinski '16 and Timothy Sardone ’16, who each made a strong showing in the preliminary rounds.
The Mugel Competition is one of three major events hosted by the Buffalo Moot Court Board, and it plays an important role in maintaining and enhancing the Law School’s national profile. Its events include a reception and a banquet for all of the visiting coaches and teams.
Professor Patrick J. Long is the Law School’s Director of Moot Courts, part of SUNY Buffalo’s Advocacy Institute.