Cara Mund ’22 is the winner of the second annual Kristin P. Muniz Memorial Award. Mund is recognized for her commitment to justice, her advocacy, compassion for her clients, and stellar representation of each of those clients.
This annual award honors the late Kristin P. Muniz, a former Harvard Law School senior clinical instructor, whose untimely death in 2020 was heartbreaking for everyone at the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI), her many former students, and her colleagues in the clinical and pro bono program. For ten years, Muniz was a zealous criminal defense attorney and a beloved instructor and trial team coach at CJI. This award recognizes a graduating student who, like Muniz, has demonstrated an exemplary dedication to client-centered representation in criminal courts and has focused their efforts on racial justice and equality, respect for human dignity, fairness, diversity, and compassion.
“Cara Mund is an outstanding CJI student, and she had one of the highest caseloads this year,” says Clinical Professor of Law and Faculty Deputy Director of CJI Dehlia Umunna. “Nonetheless, her zealous advocacy and exemplary work ethic were on full display as she represented her clients.”
This April, Mund had argued on her client’s behalf before a panel of judges at the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Less than two weeks later, she tried a case in Roxbury District Court on behalf of a different client, where the jury reached a ‘not guilty’ verdict in less than thirty minutes. “Her resilience, tenacity, and compassion for her clients are refreshing and highlight the best practices expected of those who advocate on behalf of marginalized demographics,” says Umunna.
“CJI has defined my time here at HLS,” says Mund. “From arguing before the Massachusetts Appeals Court to receiving a ‘not guilty’ verdict in my first trial before I have even graduated, CJI has just further ignited my desire to enact change within our legal system. It has been a true honor to have had the opportunity to learn and work under Deputy Director Professor Dehlia Umunna.”
Mund was a student in CJI from September 2021 through April 2022. The previous year, Mund completed the Criminal Prosecution Clinic, working in the Morton County State Attorney’s Office in North Dakota. Effecting change close to home is never far from Mund’s mind, especially as she looks towards her future after graduation: “My ultimate career goal is to apply what I have learned through my clinical experiences to impact policy at either the state or national level, especially back in my home state of North Dakota, where there continues to be a lack of female representation.”
Additionally, Mund has served as a Teaching Fellow for the Trial Advocacy Workshop, the Executive Editor of Operations for HLS’ Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law, a member of HLS’ Mock Trial Team, and a member of HLS’ Women’s Law Association.
“Cara will be missed by her clients and everyone who has worked with her,” reflects Umunna. “She has developed a reputation among her peers as kind and generous with her time and talent. Cara is humble, compassionate, sweet, incredibly talented, and warm, and she truly represents everything that Kristin represented.”
“Receiving this award means so much to me because it honors the late Kristin P. Muniz, a remarkable woman who was known for her zealous advocacy at CJI,” says Mund. “By continuing to focus my efforts on the issues of racial justice and equality, respect for human dignity, fairness, diversity, and compassion, I am committed to continuing her legacy.”