A look back at the Appellate Litigation Clinic

Appellate Litigation clinic students in fall of 2023 posed on the law school stairs

The Appellate Litigation Clinic has had its strongest semester yet, with nine amazing students jumping in feet first. Between August and the end of 2023, we have:

  • Taken on 13 new appeals from five different appellate courts: the First, Second, Eighth, and Ninth District Courts of Appeals of Ohio and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Filed five opening briefs (another seven will follow soon!)
  • Resolved one case (a civil appeal) in mediation
  • Sought reconsideration in three cases that were affirmed at the end of the summer
  • Filed a petition for jurisdiction in the Supreme Court of Ohio
  • Begun drafting two petitions for writs of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, both of which will be filed in early 2024

The issues are numerous and varied. Some involve clients who pleaded guilty without proper plea colloquies and for various reasons now wish to go to trial. Some involve trial error—such as a conviction based on improper character evidence or on police-officer testimony flatly contradicted by body-cam video footage. Some involve sentencing issues, including sentence length, financial restitution, and the right to counsel at sentencing. And our team also has one of the thousands of cases across the country in which individuals convicted of certain gun-related charges may be entitled to relief from their convictions based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decision in 2022, N.Y. State Rifle & Pisol Association, Inc. v. Bruen.

Our cracker-jack teams of brilliant third-year law students has also discovered—the hard way—that appellate practice is not all glory. Before any briefing even begins, there are myriad procedural issues, often made more difficult by folks within the court system itself. Sometimes these procedural issues can have a serious impact on the result in the case—and certainly on the timing. Students have found this part of the practice to be the most eye-opening.

The new year will continue to shower us with opportunities to advocate for our clients. In addition to the seven opening briefs and two petitions for certiorari still to come, we will file reply briefs in all of our cases and then move on to oral arguments! And with any luck, we will have merit briefs to prepare for the Supreme Courts (Ohio and federal)!