Don Morgan (JD ’16) argues in Fourth Circuit as part of Appellate Advocacy Clinic
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February 17, 2016
Don Morgan (JD ’16) recently argued in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Virginia, as part of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic. Morgan and Taylor Ey (JD ’16) represent Douglas Fauconier in the case of Fauconier v. Clarke. The court had ordered the clinic to address whether Fauconier, as a prisoner in a state correctional facility, has rights under either the Equal Protection Clause or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The three-judge panel that heard the argument consisted of Judge Paul Niemeyer of Maryland, Judge Robert King of West Virginia and Judge Allyson Duncan of North Carolina.
Fauconier originally filed a pro se complaint alleging that he previously worked as a janitor at the correctional facility where he was housed, with the same medical condition that he has now, but that he was then denied employment after he had to leave the facility briefly for medical treatment. He has since then been denied any employment, in the same janitorial position and in several other positions, due to the medical condition he has had for years. He does not seek any accommodation, only the opportunity to work. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed his complaint with prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). After Fauconier appealed to the Fourth Circuit, the court appointed Professor John Korzen (JD ’91), director of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic, to represent Fauconier in his appeal against the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Following the appointment and during the fall semester, Morgan and Ey thoroughly researched the issues, drafted the Brief of Appellant, reviewed the defendants’ brief and then researched and drafted the Reply Brief of Appellant. In January, they prepared for the oral argument in Richmond. “Don and Taylor worked very well together throughout the entire process,” Korzen said. “They were starting from essentially zero, because the case had been dismissed at such an early stage before there had been any briefing, and they put together two excellent briefs.”
In Richmond, Morgan argued first and last, reserving 17 minutes of the 20-minute limit for his initial argument and three minutes for rebuttal.
“Don made a great argument, and it was apparent that Don and Taylor’s briefs had been well-received,” Korzen said. “In more than two dozen oral arguments by Clinic 3Ls over the years, I cannot remember any other in which the entire panel of judges expressed such sympathy with one of our clients. The judges seemed very supportive of Mr. Fauconier’s attempts to obtain employment.”
A decision is expected later this semester.