William and Mary Law School

Appellate Clinic Has Demanding Fall With Five Oral Arguments Across the Country

On November 13, 2013, William & Mary Law School's Appellate and Supreme Court Clinic (Appellate Clinic) presented oral argument for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Jim Ogorzalek '14 argued the case Lawal v. McDonald on behalf of the clinic, with preparation assistance from Katlin Cravatta '14. Jim Ogorzalek gave a very strong argument that prompted Judge Hardiman of the 3rd Circuit Court to comment to Mr. Ogorzalek that, "if the papers didn't indicate you were a law student, I don't think we ever would have known."

In Lawal, the clinic represented three United States citizens - Mr. Oliver Lawal, Mr. Daosamid Bouthisane, and Mr. Gazali Shittu - as they appealed the dismissal of their claim that unnamed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents violated their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure by luring them into a raid that resulted in hours of unlawful detainment. The Appellate Clinic is grateful to Reed Smith Associates Tara A. Brennan and Thomas W. Ports, Jr. '12, who prepared the brief during the summer months.

Lawal v. McDonald is the third in a continuing series of oral arguments scheduled this fall for the Appellate Clinic. The clinic had its first oral argument on October 8, 2013, Ortega vs. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which appealed the dismissal of appellant's civil rights action alleging numerous constitutional violations against state and federal officials. Clinic student Brittany Sadler '14 argued the case in front of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, and gave an outstanding oral argument, responding well to vigorous questions from the panel, with preparatory assistance from Andrew Steinberg '14 and brief writers Travis Gunn '13 and Kelci Block '13.

The Clinic's second oral argument was on October 24, 2013, for a panel of judges of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Skyler Peacock '14 argued the case Branch v. Gorman on behalf of the clinic, with preparation assistance from Elizabeth Turner '14 and brief writing from Pamela Palmer '13 and Alexa Roggenkamp '13. In Branch v. Gorman, the clinic represented Mary D. Branch on her appeal from a district court order granting summary judgment in her § 1983 claim against a Minneapolis police officer for unlawfully arresting her in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The clinic is already preparing for their next case Stop This Insanity v. FEC, which will be presented on November 19, 2013 in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The clinic's final fall semester argument will be Wall v. Wade, a December 11th argument in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. Elizabeth Turner, '14 will give the December 11th oral argument, which is open to the public.

Oral Argument Recordings
11/14/13 | 3rd Circuit | Lawal v. McDonald | Jim Ogorzalek '14

10/24/13 | 8th Circuit | Branch v. Gorman | Skyler Peacock '14

10/8/13 | 6th Circuit | Ortega v. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement | Brittany Sadler '14

About the Appellate Clinic
The Appellate Clinic, which focuses on First Amendment (free speech) and Fourth Amendment (search and seizure) cases in various federal courts of appeal, is led by Tillman J. Breckenridge, leader of Reed Smith's Virginia and Washington D.C. Appellate Groups, who, with support from his firm and several associates, uses his extensive appellate experience as a means to provide students with high-quality, practical knowledge for appellate practice in the federal Courts of Appeal and the United States Supreme Court. Professor Breckenridge is on the Board of Governors of the National Bar Association and Chair of their Appellate Practice Section. In addition, he was selected as a member of Virginia's Legal Elite for Appellate Law in 2013.

The Appellate Clinic creates a unique and highly practical legal experience. In addition to meeting weekly for general instruction or appellate practice and group discussions, the students prepare briefs on the merits, amicus briefs, petitions for rehearing or certiorari, appendices, and other appellate filings for actual appellate cases. The clinic is highly lauded by its students. For example, Andrew Steinberg, '14, stated that "the clinic has been both personally and professionally rewarding because of the lessons learned from taking on the significant responsibility of real-life cases with actual consequences." Other graduates of the program emphasized the "real world" preparation that gave students an "edge" in the workforce, as well as the satisfaction that comes from seeing their names on their submitted briefs following the challenging brief-writing process. 

About Reed Smith
Reed Smith is a global relationship law firm with more than 1,800 lawyers in 25 offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Founded in 1877, the firm represents leading international businesses, from Fortune 100 corporations to mid-market and emerging enterprises. Its lawyers provide litigation and other dispute-resolution services in multi-jurisdictional and other high-stakes matters; deliver regulatory counsel; and execute the full range of strategic domestic and cross-border transactions. Reed Smith is a preeminent advisor to industries including financial services, life sciences, health care, advertising, technology and media, shipping, energy and natural resources, real estate, manufacturing, and education.

About William & Mary Law School

Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation.  Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.