Posted: June 5th, 2013 | By: Lisa Snedeker
While his classmates relaxed after final exams and looked forward to graduation, Dylan Greenwood (’13) prepared for and gave an oral argument at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Greenwood recently argued at the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., as part of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic. Greenwood was the fourth Appellate Advocacy Clinic member to argue in the Fourth Circuit during the 2012-13 academic year.
Greenwood argued on behalf of Mitchell Smalls, in the case of United States v. Smalls. Also representing Mr. Smalls were John Forneris (’13) and Professor John Korzen, the director of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic. The issue on appeal is whether a district court judge must give an individualized explanation of the reasons for a particular sentence in a resentencing under 18 U.S.C. § 3582, or whether it is sufficient if the district court judge merely states that the sentencing factors were considered. The Fourth Circuit previously held in 2000, in United States v. Legree, that no individualized explanation is needed, but the Court appointed the Appellate Advocacy Clinic to address whether the law has changed in the meantime due to a subsequent Supreme Court decision.
Greenwood and Forneris researched and drafted a Brief of Appellant, and then a Reply Brief of Appellant, contending that Smalls’ resentence was either inadequate under the existing Legree precedent or that Legree is no longer good law.
Greenwood had four practice arguments before the real thing. Judges for those practices included another Clinic member, Mary Beth Usher (’13); Professors Tanya Marsh and Barbara Lentz; and four attorneys with the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of North Carolina, on a visit to Raleigh that Greenwood arranged.
The three-judge panel for Greenwood’s oral argument consisted of Fourth Circuit Judge Diana Motz of Maryland; Fourth Circuit Judge Roger Gregory of Virginia; and, sitting by designation, District Court Judge Ellen Hollander of Maryland.
Greenwood had some support in Richmond. In addition to Forneris and Professor Korzen, Greenwood’s parents and girlfriend attended the argument.
“I was very impressed with all of Dylan’s work on this appeal,” Professor Korzen said, “especially his preparation for oral argument and presentation of the oral argument. It was a hot bench with some very hard questions, but Dylan held his ground and had great answers for all their concerns.”
The Appellate Advocacy Clinic is a two-semester course for third-year law students. During the 2012-13 academic year, the Clinic had 10 students working on six appeals in four different appellate jurisdictions. For more information about the Clinic, contact Professor Korzen.