Adjunct ProfessorS KEVIN L. COPE AND Neal Walters; 4 Credits; Yearlong
Students brief and argue one or more appeals before a federal appeals court and examine applicable rules and procedure in the federal appellate system.Discussions cover the fundamentals of oral and written appellate advocacy, with a focus on each student's individual project.
The seminar will meet as a full group several times during the fall semester, and then students will have additional conferences with the instructors as work on a specific briefing project gets underway. Depending on the volume of cases available, students will work in teams of two or individually as the instructors may determine. All students will practice oral argument and one per case will argue the appeal before the courts. The course may require substantial work over the winter break.
Students Win Appeal at 4th Circuit
Dean Razavi '10 and Ellen Valentine '10 racked up their first win at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before graduating from law school. The students, both enrolled in the Law School’s Appellate Litigation Clinic at the time, were assigned to help an inmate who appealed his 15-year sentence on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.
Both Valentine and Razavi worked on the brief, while Razavi represented inmate Nicholas Omar Tucker at oral argument. Tucker had filed his appeal pro se before the case was picked up by the clinic.
“Unlike moot court, where a fake issue is isolated for discussion and argument, this was a real case, with a real individual,” Razavi said. “Questions came from every direction that, in rounds and rounds of practice, none of us had ever anticipated. It was such an engaging dialogue that, 30 seconds in, I forgot I was in a courtroom of people and thought that I was just trying to explain the law to the three judges in front of me.”
The 4th Circuit sided with the students and the case was remanded to the district court for resentencing.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to work on a real case. It gave us such a huge sense of responsibility,” Valentine said. “Making sure I finished the brief while also juggling my other classes, pro bono projects and various other commitments made me realize the balancing act that practicing attorneys are faced with everyday.”