William and Mary Law School

W&M Appellate Clinic Wins Third Circuit Case

On February 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued an opinion in Lawal v. McDonald in favor of the appellants, who are represented by the William & Mary Appellate and Supreme Court Clinic.

The Third Circuit held that the alleged continued detention of three suspected illegal immigrants by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for several hours after their citizenships had already been confirmed, if proven true, violated the three citizens' Fourth Amendment rights. The case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings.

The opinion, authored by Judge Patty Shwartz, and joined by Judges Thomas Hardimann and Anthony Scirica, partially vacated the district court's summary judgment order by ruling that the citizens may file an amended complaint to sufficiently identify the perpetrators for each of their alleged constitutional violations. The panel held that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers had reasonable suspicion to interrogate the citizens and that a reasonable officer would have believed they had authority to arrest. But the panel also held that the citizens' continued detention by ICE agents may have constituted an unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

Jim Ogorzalek J.D. '14 presented oral argument before the panel on November 13, 2013, with Katlin Cravatta J.D. '14 providing oral argument support. The law students practice under the supervision of Adjunct Professor Tillman J. Breckenridge, an attorney at Reed Smith LLP and the director of the William & Mary Appellate and Supreme Court Clinic. The briefs were authored by Tara Brennan and Tom Ports J.D. '13 of Reed Smith LLP.