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Appellate Clinic student argues in Seventh Circuit

Third-year law student Brooks Hanner argued in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago on Wednesday, Feb. 19.  His argument marked the first time a Wake Forest University law student has argued to the Seventh Circuit.

Hanner, along with fourth-year JD/MBA student Jamie Dean and Professor John Korzen, represented defendant Matthew Mann in the case of United States v. Mann, which originated in the Northern District of Indiana.  The issue on appeal is whether a search of Mann’s computers was unreasonable and thereby violated his Fourth Amendment rights.  Indiana State Police originally obtained a search warrant allowing them to search his computers for one state crime, and then during the search they discovered evidence of a different, federal crime.

Much later they searched additional computers without obtaining a second search warrant, and then Mann was indicted in federal court for the federal crime.  He moved to suppress the evidence of the federal crime seized from his computers.  The district court held that the “plain view” exception to the search warrant requirement applied and denied Mann’s motion to suppress.  Mann appealed, and the Seventh Circuit appointed Professor Korzen, in conjunction with the Appellate Advocacy Clinic, to represent Mann.

Hanner and Dean researched and drafted a brief filed in November and then, after the government filed a brief in December, they researched and drafted a reply brief filed in January.  The briefs contend that the police exceeded the scope of the search warrant, were required to obtain a second search warrant, and cannot rely on the plain view doctrine to avoid the search warrant requirement.

After the Seventh Circuit scheduled the oral argument, Hanner had several practice arguments to prepare for the real thing, before traveling to Chicago with Dean and Korzen.  In Chicago, the Seventh Circuit panel consisted of Judges Ilana Rovner, Terrence Edwards and John Tinder.  As in many oral arguments in the Seventh Circuit, the Court allowed only 10  minutes per side. Hanner faced a fairly hot bench as the judges asked more than 15 questions in his 10 minutes.

“He did a great job handling the questions, with none taking him by surprise,” said Korzen.

Audio of the argument is available here.  Korzen said that Judge Rovner, the presiding judge on the panel, highly praised Hanner’s performance and Dean’s afterwards, calling them “two terrific new lawyers.”

“Special thanks go to the judges at the practice arguments:  Dean Wright, Professor Collins, and Professor Jurs, and clinic students Eric Doggett, Adam Hocutt, and Jessica Skarin,” Korzen said.