Law School wins 2014 Mugel National Tax Moot Court Competition

Alexandre Ramirez ’14 and Matthew Ronan ’15

Published March 24, 2014

A SUNY Buffalo Law School team won the 2014 Albert R. Mugel National Moot Court Tax Competition following a spirited Final Round oral argument against a team from Chicago’s John Marshall Law School. The competition was held on Friday, Feb. 28, in the Ceremonial Courtroom of Erie County Court, in Buffalo.

The SUNY Buffalo team of Alexandre Ramirez ’14 and Matthew Ronan ’15 prevailed over 13 other law school teams from across the United States, including from as far away as Georgia and the state of Washington.  The distinguished panel hearing the Final Round included the Hon. Mark Holmes of the U.S. Tax Court, and Professor Ronald H. Jensen of the Pace Law School, a former partner of the late Albert R. Mugel, for whom the Competition is named. 

The team of Jennifer Hunter and Frank Yozwiak were on the John Marshall Law School Final Round team.  Another SUNY Buffalo team, comprised of Earl Cantwell ’14 and Samuel Alba ’14, survived into the Competition’s semi-final round.

Founded in 1974, the annual Albert R. Mugel Moot Court Tax Competition is the oldest and most prestigious national moot court tax competition in the United States. Professor Albert R. Mugel ’41 was a founding partner at the Buffalo-based law firm now known as Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel, LLP.  Initiated by SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus Kenneth F. Joyce, the Mugel Moot Court program is now overseen by Associate Professor Stuart Lazar.  

The 2014 Mugel Competition Problem concerned the ambiguity of the IRS procedures and requirements governing cases in which a non-custodial parent seeks to claim a child dependency exemption following a divorce.  It combined issues from several cases currently pending in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal and U.S. Tax Court.  A major role in its creation was played by the Williamsville-based law firm of Andreozzi, Bluestein, Weber, Brown LLP.

The team of James Blankenship and Danny Hemachandia from Gonzaga Law School shared the award for Best Brief with Wyatt Swinford and John Arrowood from the University of Oklahoma. Hemachandia also won the award for best oral advocate.  SUNY Buffalo’s Ramirez and Ronan won the prize for Third Best Brief, and Ramirez was the second place oralist.  Alan Wilson from West Virginia Law School was third best oral advocate.  

SUNY Buffalo Law alumni Elizabeth Blazey-Pennel ’10 and Justin G. Meeks ’06, both of whom work at the Criminal Tax Division of the Internal Revenue Service, served as the SUNY Buffalo teams’ moot court coaches.