Southwestern Practicum Students Win Two Appellate Cases
Students participating in Southwestern’s Appellate Litigation Practicum completed a very successful year, winning both of the cases they argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In April, the court granted Southwestern’s client’s petition for review and remanded it to the Board of Immigration Appeals with instructions to vacate the order removing him from the United States. Professor Gowri Ramachandran, who teaches the practicum, explained that students Justin Felton, Stephanie Hyland-Zacarias, Annie Levitt and Menachem Striks put together a superb opening brief and reply brief, and they all helped Felton excel in his oral argument. Adjunct Professor Andrew Knapp, who co-teaches the practicum, served as supervising attorney on the case.
“The experience was very gratifying,” Levitt said. “After three years of focusing on academics, it was great to get into a case with a real person and know that the outcome would be a critical stage in their life. It turns out that the experience was then also a critical stage in my law school career as it finally put many of the things I had learned in class into practice for the first time.”
Then, in June, practicum students scored a second victory when they secured a reversal and remand in a case in which their clients, who are patients at a state mental health hospital, had their personal electronic devices confiscated and banned. The court held they had stated a claim that the policy is excessive and therefore amounts to punishment, which is unconstitutional because the clients involved in the matter are not prisoners, but rather patients. Students Kathryn Podsiadlo, Christine Polito, Talia Leibovic and Jessica Nadler worked diligently on this case, with Podsiadlo successfully arguing before the panel of judges.
“I am thrilled that this really seems to be the first time a court has recognized there is a valid claim (under a punishment theory) regarding electronic devices in civil confinement,” Podsiadlo said. “It was incredible to be part of that process.” Continue reading…