Screen shot of participants in a Zoom
Top Row: 3Ls Farai Vyamucharo-Shawa, David Holmes, and Kat Killian
Middle Row: 2Ls Maya Lucyshyn, Alex Fried, and Professor Richard Greenstein
Bottom Row: Professor Meg deGuzman

For the fourth consecutive year, a Temple team has earned the right to represent the United States at the international round of the International Criminal Court Moot Court Competition held in the Netherlands at the Hague.

The team, which included 3L litigants Farai Vyamucharo-Shawa (team captain), David Holmes, and Kat Killian, and 2L researchers Alex Fried and Maya Lucyshyn, won first place in the 2021 Regional Round for the Americas and Caribbean of the International Criminal Court Moot Court Competition, beating teams from Georgetown, NYU, and Emory, among others. They will now compete (remotely) in the international rounds in the Hague in June.

In addition to their team victory, the team also garnered several individual awards:
• Farai Vyamucharo-Shawa – Best oralist, final round and Best prosecution oralist, preliminary round
• Kat Killian – Best defense memorial (brief) and 3rd best oralist, defense
• David Holmes – 2nd best oralist for the government, 3rd best government memorial (brief).

While second-year law students Alexander Fried and Maya Lucyshyn were not officially competitors, serving instead in a researcher role, they volunteered to argue as “ghost litigants” when another school’s team had to cancel. Not only did they both excel, but Fried won the most points of any defense oralist in the competition, and would have garnered a best defense oralist accolade had he been an official competitor. His role as researcher was helpful in preparing him for the challenge: “As a researcher, I enjoyed working with the ICC team and becoming an expert on international criminal jurisprudence. (The researcher’s) role on the team is part objective and part subjective; you read cases objectively but then, in an effort to assist the oralists with their arguments, you help oralists distinguish and twist the existing case law to construct a favorable rule,” he said. “This is especially fun given the nature of international law. We really toiled over differing interpretations of treaties and to what extent decisions from criminal tribunals outside of the ICC should influence issues we argued in this case.”

Holmes encouraged current and future law students to consider participation on the team. “The ICC Moot Court Team is a great opportunity for anyone interested in international law or improving their oral advocacy skills,” he remarked. “This was one of the only chances I got to practice both appellate-style brief writing and advocacy. The issues addressed in each year’s case are complex and really allow (competitors) to dive deeply into the materials and figure out the nuances of a position. I cannot recommend the experience enough!”

Killian agreed, noting the strong support for the team from faculty and alumni. “ICC Moot Court was such a rewarding experience,” she said. “I have a very strong interest in international criminal law, and it was such a privilege to be able to apply my knowledge in a meaningful way. I’m extremely grateful for my incredible teammates for their never-ending encouragement and positivity. I am also grateful to our coaches and all of the other professors that helped moot us these past two months. I am looking forward to the international round in June!”

The team was coached by Professors Margaret deGuzman and Rick Greenstein, with additional faculty support from Professors Jeff Dunoff, Jules Epstein, Duncan Hollis, and Marian Braccia. Nikki Hatza LAW ’20 and Julia Wilkins LAW ’20, competitors on last year’s team, returned to Temple to provide mooting assistance. Professors deGuzman and Greenstein expressed deep pride in the team, noting that “all participants worked very hard this year. They coped impressively with the logistical complications imposed by the pandemic, and their preparation and talents really showed. We’re excited to see what they’ll do in June!”