Appellate Clinic students file brief in Seventh Circuit, argue in Fourth Circuit

Wake Forest University’s School of Law Appellate Advocacy Clinic filed a 32-page brief on Nov. 14 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in the case of United States v. Matthew Mann. 

Third-year law students Jamie Dean and Brooks Hanner researched and wrote the brief, under the supervision of Professor John Korzen.  The clinic represents the defendant, who moved to suppress evidence seized from three of his computers and an external hard drive by the Lafayette (Ind.) Police Department. 

The police were searching for evidence of one crime, pursuant to a search warrant, when they discovered evidence of another crime during the search of the defendant’s second computer.  Rather than apply for a second search warrant pertaining to the new crime, they continued to search that computer, the defendant’s third computer, and the defendant’s external hard drive, all the while discovering evidence of the second crime.  The defendant contends that the police violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.  The lower court admitted the evidence under the “plain view” doctrine. 

On appeal, the clinic contends that the police exceeded the scope of the search warrant, the police should have sought a second search warrant, and the plain view doctrine does not apply.  An oral argument will likely be held during the spring semester in Chicago, where the Seventh Circuit is based.  This appeal is the first time in which the Appellate Advocacy Clinic has handled a Seventh Circuit case.

On Oct. 28, third-year law student Jenelle Neubecker argued before a panel of the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, in the case of Browning et al. v. Tiger’s Eye Benefits Consulting et al.  In that case, a civil action under ERISA, the Appellate Advocacy Clinic served as amicus counsel on behalf of one of the defendants, David Dukich.  Neubecker argued that Dukich was not a fiduciary under ERISA and that equitable estoppel did not prevent the defendants on relying on the statute of limitations to bar the plaintiffs’ state law claim. Neubecker was praised for mastering a complex factual record and handling questions from the bench. All three judges spoke highly of her performance, as did the two practicing attorneys who also argued.

In addition, this year the clinic is also handling three other appeals, including one in the U.S. Supreme Court, one in the Fourth Circuit and one in the North Carolina Court of Appeals.