Miami Law Team Qualifies for Final in International Criminal Court Moot Competition; Top U.S. Team in Regional Competition

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Students and Paula Arias at the International Criminal Court Moot Competition

Meredith Shea (2L), Leticia Mora (co-coach), Prof. Paula C. Arias, Natalia Jaramillo (2L), and Romney Manassa (2L)

Second-year law students Meredith Shea, Natalia Jaramillo, and Romney Manassa emerged as the top team from the United States and placed second in all the Americas at the 2019 regional rounds of the International Criminal Court Moot Competition, which takes place annually at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in White Plains, New York. Thirteen teams competed, and Miami Law’s team was one of only two U.S. teams to qualify for the finals. 

First organized in 2004, the ICC Moot Court Competition at Pace is among the first, largest, and most prestigious of its kind for international criminal law. Participants must draft memorials and argue positions based on hypothetical cases that incorporate the laws and procedures of the International Criminal Court, established in 2002 as the first permanent international tribunal dedicated to the prosecution of international criminal offenses, such as genocide and crimes against humanity. 

The annual competition at Pace serves as a Regional Qualifying Round for the global ICC competition, held annually in The Hague, Netherlands, with the final round judged at the ICC by ICC judges and legal officers. Miami Law was one of more than 60 teams from 55 countries to participate. 

With the help of Paula Arias, lecturer in law and director of the International Moot Court Program, and coach Leticia Mora, a Miami Law alumna and former participant in the ICC Moot Court Competition, the team spent over six months doing an intensive study into the functions, statutes, and jurisprudence of the ICC. They also did extensive research on international law generally, including other international criminal tribunals, relevant treaties and U.N. bodies, and various legal theories.

“Working with Professor Arias to coach the UM team was an honor,” said Mora. “I am so proud of the hard work they have put forward and I am happy that the work translated into winning results. I am confident they will do great in the international rounds at the Hague, and I am excited to continue this journey with them.”

Aside from learning the inner workings of the ICC, the team also developed their skills in legal research, analysis, writing, and argumentation. 

“Neither my professor, coach, nor teammates ever allowed me to settle for less,” said Manassa, who served as prosecutor. “We were pushed to the brink both professionally and personally, but we all turned out better for it." On being awarded the third best prosecution brief in the competition, he credits the tireless support of his team. “I am immensely grateful to them for being equal parts supportive and challenging. We helped to strengthen each other’s arguments, both written and oral, and looked out for one another both in and out of the competition.”  

The combined points from their written memorials and oral arguments took them to the semifinals with eight other teams, which included Johns Hopkins, University of Ottawa, and Tulane University. Filling the role of government counsel, Shea led the team to the finals and ultimately to first place among the U.S. teams. 

“Representing the ICC Moot Team in the U.S. competition was as grueling as it was rewarding,” said Shea. “This experience connected team alums who dedicated their time to judge our practice rounds, sometimes on multiple occasions. It was an ICC team generational effort to reach the No. 1 U.S. team title this year, and I fully intend to pay this forward to future teams. "

In the International Moot Court Program, students represent Miami Law in various legal competitions around the world while obtaining course credit. A workshop and participation in one international moot court competition comprise the program. The program is receiving applications and holding tryouts on March 28 and 29.