Appellate Advocacy

Appellate Advocacy Faculty

Appellate Advocacy is taught by seasoned attorneys who imbue their classroom time with their unique experience with professional legal writing and appellate work. In Appellate Advocacy students learn from professors who currently work or formerly served as judges, prosecutors, appellate specialists, private practitioners, and in-house counsel.

Meet The 2023-2024 Appellate Advocacy professors:

  • Professor Jonathan Barrera, Senior Assistant prosecutor at the Passaic County Prosecutors Office

    Professor Jonathan Barrera

    Senior Assistant prosecutor at the Passaic County Prosecutors Office

    Professor Barrera is a Senior Assistant prosecutor at the Passaic County Prosecutors Office, where he has held that position since May 2015. Currently, he is assigned to the Fatal Investigations Unit. In this unit, Professor Barrera handles all matters that result in death within the County of Passaic. As part of this unit, Professor Barrera is heavily involved in the investigation of these matters, and ultimately, the prosecution of those individuals charged with the offenses that result from these investigations. Prior to holding this position, Professor Barrera was part of the Trial Unit where he was the Team Leader of Trial Team B, supervising a group of 6 assistant prosecutors. Prior to re-joining the trial unit, he was assigned to the Narcotics, Gangs, and Violent Crimes Task Force. Professor Barrera has handled numerous jury trials, which included homicides, attempted murders, drugs and weapons related offenses. Prior to joining the Passaic office, he spent three years with the Hudson County Prosecutors Office. Before becoming an assistant prosecutor in 2011, he clerked for the Honorable Lourdes I. Santiago of the New Jersey Superior Court-Criminal Division. 

    Professor Barrera is a graduate of St. John’s University, where he received his B.S. in Sports Management, and Seton Hall University School of Law. As a student at Seton Hall Law, he participated in the Juvenile Justice Clinic and was a member of the Latin American Law Students Association, where he held executive board positions of Co-President and Treasurer. While at St. John’s, he was a recipient of the Phi Eta Sigma Scholarship and was inducted into the college’s honor society.

    In addition to his work at the prosecutors office, Professor Barrera also holds an E-Board position with the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey and is the Co-Chair of a high school pipeline mentoring program. He has held the position of Co-Chair for 9 years and has had the privilege of helping young high school students reach their goals of attending college and then becoming professionals in their chosen careers.

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  • Judge James Clark, United States Magistrate Judge for the District of New Jersey

    Judge James Clark

    United States Magistrate Judge for the District of New Jersey

    Judge Clark is a United States Magistrate Judge for the District of New Jersey.  He graduated from Seton Hall Law School, where he was the Editor-In-Chief of the Seton Hall Law Review.  Judge Clark earned his BBA from the University of Notre Dame.

    Following his graduation from Seton Hall Law, Judge Clark was a Clerk for the Honorable John J. Gibbons, Third Circuit.  He was an Associate for McCarter and English for two years prior to joining the U.S. Attorney's Office.  Judge Clark worked for the U.S. Attorney's Office, AUSA from 1989-2011 and in the Chief Civil Division from 2011-2013.

    Judge Clark has been a Professor of Appellate Advocacy at Seton Hall Law for over 20 years.

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  • Professor Alvaro Danni, Assistant General Counsel at Bayer

    Professor Alvaro Danni

    Assistant General Counsel at Bayer

    Professor Danni is an Assistant General Counsel at Bayer, a global Life Science company focusing on healthcare and agriculture. As in-house counsel, Professor Danni serves as a trusted advisor to Bayer’s business leaders and Human Resources on critical employment issues.

    Prior to joining Bayer, Professor Danni was an attorney at a national labor and employment law firm where he represented employers, including Fortune 500 companies, in all aspects of labor and employment law before federal and state courts, as well as regulatory and administrative agencies. 

    Professor Danni has published numerous legal articles. His scholarly work has been cited by federal district courts, as well as the U.S. Courts of Appeals. His expertise on labor and employment law was regularly featured in the media, including The Washington Post, NJ 101.5 FM, NJBIZ, New Jersey Law Journal, Bloomberg Law, Law360, Patch, New Jersey Business Magazine, WashTrends Magazine, and Practical Law.

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  • Professor Keri Donohue, trial attorney in the New Jersey Administrative courts

    Professor Keri Donohue 

    Trial Attorney in the New Jersey Administrative courts

    Professor Donohue graduated from the University of Scranton in 1994, where she majored in History and minored in Biology and Political Science. During law school, she clerked for The Honorable James D. Thomas, a United States Magistrate Judge. It was through that clerkship that Professor Donohue decided to become a trial attorney.  She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1998 and received the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys Award.  Professor Donohue was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1998, the New York Bar in 2000, and the California Bar in 2003.

    Professor Donohue began her career in litigation with McDermott & McGee in Millburn, New Jersey in 1998, where she was responsible for a large insurance defense caseload from initial appearance through verdict. She specialized in handling products liability, construction defect and construction injury cases, but also developed a broad range of experience in disputes involving premises liability, property damage, breach of contract, motor vehicle negligence, wrongful death, public entity liability, employment and insurance coverage disputes. Upon moving to San Francisco, California in 2003, Professor Donohue focused her practice on the defense of companies involved in asbestos litigation in the state and federal courts in California and in the Asbestos MDL in Pennsylvania.  She presently works as a trial attorney representing victims of personal injury, as well as clients in special education matters in the New Jersey Administrative courts.

    In her spare time, Professor Donohue enjoys spending time with her husband and three kids and coaching the girls’ varsity basketball team at Our Lady of Sorrows in South Orange, NJ.

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  • John McNamara, Jr., adjunct professor at the Seton Hall Law School

    Professor John McNamara

    Adjunct Professor at the Seton Hall Law School

    John McNamara, Jr. is an adjunct professor at the Seton Hall Law School. He retired from the Office of the Morris County Prosecutor as a Chief Assistant Prosecutor in 2022. He has a B.A. and M.A. in History from the University of Scranton. He graduated from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in 1989. Upon graduation from law school, he served as judicial clerk to the Hon. Donald G. Collester, Jr., J.A.D.

    In 1990, he was hired by Robert M. Morgenthau as an Assistant District Attorney for New York County. In 1992, he was appointed to the Homicide Bureau. He prosecuted homicide cases until he left to join the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office in 1996. He served in this capacity until September of 1998, when he briefly left the office for private practice. He was re-hired as an Assistant Prosecutor in February of 2000. He served as Chief of the Major Crimes Unit as the supervising attorney for approximately 12 years until being named the Supervising Assistant Prosecutor for the Professional Standards Unit, effective 2014. He was promoted to Chief Assistant Prosecutor in 2018 and oversaw the Appellate Unit and the Special Investigations unit.

    During his prosecutorial career, he prosecuted numerous homicide cases on behalf of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, including capital cases before the abolition of the penalty in 2007. He also served as a Special Deputy Attorney General in the contested proceeding before the N.J. Supreme Court-appointed Special Master examining whether New Jersey should modify the standards for admissibility for eyewitness identification testimony. He served five terms on the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Model Criminal Jury Charges, and he is a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court Criminal Practice Committee. He is a member of the bar of the State of New Jersey, the Supreme Court of the United States, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

    He has served as amicus curiae counsel on behalf of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey (CPANJ) and argued on its behalf before the N.J. Supreme Court on numerous occasions.

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  • Emily Pirro, lead Appellate Prosecutor for the Somerset County Prosecutor's office

    Professor Emily Pirro

    Lead Appellate Prosecutor for the Somerset County Prosecutor's office

    Professor Emily Pirro is the lead Appellate Prosecutor for the Somerset County Prosecutor's office. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2013 with a B.A. in Psychology, and graduated from William & Mary Law School in 2016. She is the first lawyer in her family. After graduation, she clerked for the chancery division in Middlesex County. Professor Pirro discovered her passion for appellate practice in the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, where she was an attorney law clerk in their Appellate Unit for a year. She was then a Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor in the Essex County Prosecutor's office in Newark for four years, working exclusively on criminal appeals. She joined the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office in December 2022 as their lead Appellate Prosecutor. Her cases include multi-defendant, multi-victim homicide appeals, kidnappings, sexual assaults, gun crime, and gang-related violence. Recently, she prevailed in a published Appellate Division case, State v. Martinez-Mejia, a case involving child endangerment and child luring. She also appeared in several cases before the New Jersey Supreme Court, including State v. Paden-Battle and State v. Keogh. She has also worked in domestic violence, juvenile prosecution, and general case screening.

    Professor Pirro has also co-authored briefs on behalf of the County Prosecutor's Association of New Jersey as amicus curiae, before the Supreme Court of New Jersey. She currently supervises junior appellate prosecutors in Somerset County, oversees the internship program for the office, and is liaison to the municipal prosecutors in Somerset County.

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  • Angela Cai, Deputy Solicitor General in the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General

    Professor Angela Cai

    Deputy Solicitor General in the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General

    Angela Cai is Deputy Solicitor General in the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, where she focuses on appellate and constitutional litigation on behalf of the State of New Jersey. She has authored numerous briefs at all levels of state and federal courts, and she frequently presents oral argument in federal courts of appeal and the New Jersey Supreme Court.

  • Before joining the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, she was an associate at Wilkinson Stekloff LLP in New York and at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in Washington, D.C.  She clerked for Judge Michael Chagares of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  She is a graduate of Yale Law School and Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs.

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  • Wayne Forrest, Judge of the Superior Court and Somerset County Prosecutor (retired)

    Professor Wayne Forrest

    Judge of the Superior Court and Somerset County Prosecutor (retired)

    Wayne J. Forrest is now an Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall Law school after having served as a N.J. Superior Court Judge in both the Essex and Mercer Vicinages from July 2012 until January 2023. Previously, after graduating from Seton Hall Law School, he was a N.J. Deputy Attorney General (Division of Criminal Justice) from 1984 until 1997 when he was appointed by the Governor to become the Somerset County Prosecutor, a position he held for more than two terms from 1997 to 2010. During his prosecutorial career, he handled numerous high-profile cases, some of which became the subject of documentaries, movies and books, as well as the first New Jersey trial aired on Court TV. He also attained certification by the N.J. Supreme Court as a Certified Criminal Trial Attorney. As an educator, he has taught for over 45 years, beginning while serving on active duty for 4 years as a U.S. Paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division and another 10 years in the U.S Army Reserves. He has also been certified by the New Jersey State Police Training Commission and has taught at Police Academies throughout the State, including in the Somerset, Middlesex, Hunterdon and Warren Counties’ Regional Police Academy, which he oversaw during the years he served as the County Prosecutor. He taught as an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Criminal Investigations for over 20 years at The Raritan Valley Bi-County Community College, during which time he was a member of the College’s Criminal Justice Advisory Board and a member of the New Jersey Association of Criminal Justice Educators. He has lectured at Seton Hall School of Law, Seton Hall University, Rutgers University, Centenary University, and New Jersey City University.

    For years he has volunteered to serve as a Mock Trial and Moot Court Judge for programs conducted by the State and County Bar associations and the Seton Hall Law School’s John J. Gibbons and Eugene Gressman Appellate Moot Court Competition as well as the Law School’s Appellate Advocacy Moot Court arguments. During the time that he was teaching he also authored and co-authored numerous articles and other professional works pertaining to the law, law enforcement, and education.  He received his B.A. from Washington and Jefferson College, a M.A. from Webster University, and his J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law.

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  • Beatrix Shear, Counsel at the Moskowitz Law Group, Hackensack, NJ

    Professor Beatrix (Bebe) Shear

    Counsel at the Moskowitz Law Group, Hackensack, NJ

    Professor Shear is Of Counsel at the Moskowitz Law Group, Hackensack, NJ, where she specializes in child welfare law, representing parents and others in matters in which the NJ Division of Child Protection and Permanency is involved.  She also represents defendants on appeal in child abuse/neglect and termination of parental rights cases as counsel assigned by the NJ Office of the Public Defender.  Because of her appellate practice, she continually faces the very same tasks of writing appellate briefs and presenting appellate oral arguments that her Appellate Advocacy students must master.

    Professor Shear graduated from Tulane University with Department Honors in Political Science and from Rutgers Law School with High Honors.  She began her legal career as a litigation associate at the law firm of Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Highland & Perretti, in Morristown NJ.  She subsequently became a senior attorney at Legal Services of New Jersey, where she established and directed the Family Representation Project.  In that capacity, Professor Shear defended parents in child abuse/neglect and termination of parental rights cases in trial court, worked on appeals, and did training and policy work.  She later served as a Deputy Public Defender at the NJ Office of the Public Defender, where she established and directed the Appellate Section of the OPD Office of Parental Representation.

    Professor Shear has briefed and argued numerous cases before the New Jersey Supreme Court, all of them child welfare matters.


Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Board

The Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Board creates substantive content for and oversees the Appellate Advocacy Program during the fall and spring semesters, for both day and weekend classes. The board also helps facilitate the Eugene Gressman Appellate Moot Court Competition held in the spring. Admission onto the Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Board requires an application and interview. The board is composed of 12 to 18 members, including a Student Appellate Advocacy Director, a Student Gressman Director, and a Student Assistant Gressman Director. 

As Appellate Advocacy Moot Court Board Members, students play a vital role in enhancing the legal education experience of their peers. Tasks include creating challenging legal problems for the Appellate Advocacy or Gressman programs, contributing to the content of records on appeal, and preparing bench memoranda to guide professors and volunteer attorneys in evaluating oral arguments. Students act as teaching assistants for Appellate Advocacy classes, participate in oral argument events, attend board meetings, and serve as bailiffs during the Gressman Competition and final Appellate Advocacy oral arguments. This position requires dedication, organization, and a commitment to fostering excellence in legal education.

Appellate Advocacy 2023-2024 Moot Court Board:

Jonathan Acampora
Jennifer Beck
Nathalie Conklin
Madison Diaz
Michael Flynn
Kazel Kapadia
Natalie Kenny

Matthew Levin
Mackenzie Mendolla
Crystal Paulino
Nick Pollera
Maura Quinn
Marisa Sanders Levene
Andy Towriss


Appellate Advocacy Student Director

The Appellate Advocacy Student Director’s role is integral to the effective management of the program. The Student Director assists the Faculty Director in the smooth execution of the fall and spring Appellate Advocacy curriculum for both weekday and weekend sessions and oversees the administrative needs of the program. The Student Director supervises the Moot Court Board's tasks and ensures timely submission of clear, organized, and accurate records on appeal and bench memoranda. The Student Director also handles communicating with judges, scheduling argument times and locations, and facilitating final oral argument events. 

Appellate Advocacy Course Policies

2024 Appellate Advocacy Course Policy


Contact

Appellate Advocacy 2023-2024 Student Director:

Hannah Nagy
[email protected]

Director of the Appellate Advocacy Program:

Lara Pennington
[email protected]