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Appellate Clinic Wins North Carolina Appeal

Megan Curran ('11) argues in front of the North Carolina Court of Appeals in October 2010.

Megan Curran ('11) argues in front of the North Carolina Court of Appeals in October 2010.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals has unanimously ruled in favor of the law school’s Appellate Advocacy Clinic in Haas v. JugisHaas is the case in which Megan Curran (’11) argued on Oct. 26, 2010, to a panel of Court of Appeals judges who were hearing oral arguments at Wake Forest.

 In Haas, the owner of property in a subdivision attempted to block a Catholic church from putting a parking lot on two parcels of land adjoining its existing church and parking lot.  The church’s membership and activities have grown over the decades, and the church needs additional parking.  At issue is the interpretation of a restrictive covenant that prohibits the carrying on of a “commercial enterprise” on the two parcels.  The trial court held that the covenant language prohibited the Church from putting parking lots on the land.   The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that use of the land for paved parking lots “does not fall within the natural meaning of the carrying on of a commercial enterprise.”  The Court further held that other covenant language generally consistent with a residential development did not restrict the land to residential use.

Megan Curran was only the second law student ever to have argued in the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the other being Jennifer Avriett (’08), who successfully argued in the case of Corbett v. Gray in March 2008 while a member of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic.

“I’m just excited for the Church and glad it has free use of the land,” Curran said after reviewing the Feb. 15 opinion.

Two members of the Class of 2010, Katy Aultman and Tim Wyatt, drafted the Church’s brief to the Court of Appeals and were also pleased with the result.  Aultman said that “it’s nice to see some of my own arguments repeated in an opinion,” and she was also impressed that the Court included some points and authorities that were not in the parties’ briefs.

The Appellate Advocacy Clinic represents low-income individuals and non-profit corporations in all sorts of appeals, criminal and civil, in federal and state courts.  It is for third-year students who have taken Appellate Advocacy and have an interest in appellate law.  An informational meeting about next year’s Appellate Advocacy Clinic will be held in March, or contact Professor John Korzen for more information.