For three days, during a record-cold Buffalo February, teams from more than a dozen law schools from across the United States gathered at the Erie County Courthouse for the 42d annual Albert R. Mugel National Tax Law Competition. Named for Professor Albert R. Mugel ’41, and the creation of UB Distinguished Teaching Law Professor Emeritus Kenneth R. Joyce, the Mugel Competition is the oldest and most prestigious tax law moot court in the country. Each team in the Competition must submit a brief and take part in extensive oral argument.
Professor Stuart G. Lazar, the Competition’s faculty advisor, was the author of the 2015 Competition’s Problem, which was based on two cutting-edge tax cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Jessica N. Carbone ’15, the Moot Court Board’s Vice President, organized the event and expressed appreciation to the many members of the local legal community - alumni and non-alumni - who volunteered as Competition judges.
After three preliminary rounds on February 19 and 20, the Competition culminated in a Final Round on Saturday, February 21. Assuming the bench in the role of U.S. Supreme Court Justices for the Final Round were Randall P. Andreozzi ‘87, of Andreozzi, Bluestein, Weber, Brown, LLP; Sharon Stern Gerstman, of Magavern, Magavern & Grimm, LLP; and Timothy P. Noonan ‘99, of Hodgson, Russ LLP. Gerstman served as Chief Justice.
After an unusually exciting Final Round (including a burst water pipe just outside the Ceremonial Courtroom shortly after the Final Round started), the team of John Arrowood and Wyatt Swinford from the University of Oklahoma College of Law was declared the 2015 Mugel champion. Other finalists were Blythe C. Milby and Daniel N. Robbin, from John Marshall Law School, and Rebecca Edwards and Brian Lara, from DePaul University College of Law.
Best Oralist awards went to Daniel N. Robbin (1st place), Wyatt Swinford (2nd place), and Blythe C. Milby (3rd place). The Best Brief Awards went to the previously-mentioned teams from the University of Oklahoma (1st place), John Marshall Law School (2nd place), and the University of Kentucky College of Law team of Drake Staples and Mary Ellen Wimberly (3rd place).
The Mugel Competition is one of two major activities sponsored every year 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.
Because the School of Law was the 2014 Mugel champion, the Moot Court Board elected not to enter a UB team in the 2015 Competition. They wanted to avoid the risk that the Competition might become less attractive to future visiting teams if the sponsoring law school won the Competition two years in a row.
The Moot Court Board’s other annual activity is the Charles S. Desmond Moot Court Competition, an intra-mural constitutional law competition that is held at the Law School every fall.