Appellate Advocacy Clinic Students Make Outstanding Arguments in Area Appellate Courts

Two third-year students in the Appellate Advocacy Clinic recently argued before area appellate courts.  First, Jennifer Avriett argued to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, on March 19, in the case of Carol Corbett v. Cherry Gray.  Jennifer was the first law student ever to argue to a North Carolina state appellate court.  Jennifer represented the plaintiff-appellant, Ms. Corbett, in an automobile negligence case.  She was ably assisted by Trish Mongan, who co-wrote and researched the opening brief and reply brief and also sat at counsel table during the argument.  The issues on appeal are whether the trial judge correctly submitted the issue of the plaintiff’s contributory negligence to the jury and, if so, whether the trial judge erred in failing to submit the issue of the defendant’s last clear chance to the jury.  The appeal was heard at North Carolina Central University School of Law, in Durham, so numerous law students observed Jennifer’s argument.  Jennifer did an outstanding job making her case and fielding questions, and Trish similarly did a great job helping Jennifer prepare for the argument.

On the very next day, March 20, Cameron Currie argued to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond.  Along with Jessica Golden, Cameron represented the plaintiff-appellant Roberta Spence, in a bankruptcy appeal against Educational Credit Management Corporation.  The issue on appeal is whether Ms. Spence satisfied the “undue hardship” statutory standard for discharging student loan debt in bankruptcy.  The Fourth Circuit and many other courts require debtors to satisfy a stringent three-part test before student loan debt can be considered an “undue hardship” and discharged in bankruptcy.  The bankruptcy judge ruled in Ms. Spence’s favor, but the district court reversed, and Ms. Spence, representing herself pro se to that point, filed a notice of appeal.  The Fourth Circuit then appointed the Clinic to represent Ms. Spence, and Cameron and Jessica prepared an opening brief, a reply brief, and letters of supplemental authority, and then prepared for oral argument.  Cameron did an excellent job responding to questions from a hot bench.

Decisions in the two appeals are expected any time in the next two to three months.

The Appellate Advocacy Clinic is a year-long course open to third-year students who have demonstrated ability in legal writing.  Appellate Advocacy is a pre-requisite.