Highlighting the Appellate Practice Program

Students watch as attorneys argue in front of the 8th court of appeals at Case Western Reserve University

For students interested in appellate practice, this fall has offered exciting opportunities right here on campus.

LLEAP 3 Appellate Practice

The inaugural LLEAP 3 Appellate Practice course is well underway with second-year students completing appellate briefs and preparing for oral arguments in a problem involving Fourth Amendment privacy rights. Students so far have enjoyed learning from their adjunct professors in evening simulations where they have practiced issue spotting and verbally presenting their research. They also report that they have appreciated getting hands-on experience with “new procedures and writing structures unique to the appellate process” and learning “how to become a better advocate as a whole” and specifically “how to do so in the appellate process.” Many of the students currently enrolled in LLEAP 3 Appellate Practice look forward to participating in the Appellate Litigation Clinic next fall.

Appellate Litigation Clinic

Appellate Litigation 2022

Nine of our third-year students chose this year to move from the classroom to the courtroom, enrolling in the Appellate Litigation Clinic (one of several clinical offerings through the School of Law’s Milton and Charlotte Kramer Law Clinic). Under the guidance of a faculty supervisor, they are handling real appeals in both Ohio appellate courts and the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. They are also preparing two petitions for writs of certiorari to be filed in the United States Supreme Court. It is the students’ job to interview their clients, to ensure that the trial-court record is complete for appellate review, to seek stays of execution of their clients’ sentences pending appeal, to research the legal issues, to draft the appellate briefs and ultimately to conduct the oral arguments. This is the fifth cohort of students to take this “deep dive” into appellate advocacy, an experience that also satisfies the curricular capstone requirement. The prior four cohorts, who accumulated a string of eleven successive victories, left big shoes to fill. (Pictured right: the 2022 Appellate Litigation Clinic students.)

Eighth District Oral Argument

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals held an oral argument at the law school. The three-judge panel—Judge Kathleen Keough, Judge Eileen T. Gallagher and alumna Judge Lisa B. Forbes—heard an "innocence project" appeal in State v. Williams, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. CA-23-112425. While the judges deliberated after arguments, attorneys from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, the Wrongful Conviction Project of the Ohio Public Defender, and the Death Penalty Department of the Ohio Public Defender answered students’ questions about the case and appellate advocacy generally. When the judges returned, they also engaged in a question-and-answer session with the students, faculty and staff. The event gave students valuable insights into the oral-argument process and was particularly helpful for those students who will compete in the Dean Dunmore Moot Court Competition this spring.

Advanced Appellate Advocacy Seminar

For the second year in a row, the Law School will host the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals’ Advanced Appellate Advocacy Seminar on Friday, Nov. 17, in the moot courtroom. The all-day CLE is offered at no cost, and participants can attend in person or online. The event features judges and staff attorneys from the Eighth District as well as judges from neighboring appellate districts, respected appellate practitioners and legal scholars, and representatives from several clerks’ offices. Seminar topics this year will include how to preserve issues for appeal, a deep dive into statutory interpretation, hot topics in appellate law, and ethics for appellate practitioners. Ohio’s newest appellate judges will share their perspectives and tips for appellate advocates, and the keynote speaker Judge Sean C. Gallagher will tell the story of and highlight local connections to the United States Supreme Court landmark case Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964). In addition to the distinguished participants, top appellate practitioners from across northeast Ohio attend the event, which provides students with an invaluable networking opportunity.