Posted: November 9th, 2023
Wake Forest Law had the honor of hosting the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Tuesday, October 31. Judges, clerks, lawyers, Fourth Circuit staff, and U.S. marshals descended on Winston-Salem for a full day of activities that included oral arguments, a town hall, and other events.
Beginning at 9 a.m., Chief Judge Albert Diaz, Judge Robert B. King, and Judge James Andrew Wynn listened to oral arguments in the North Carolina Business Court located on the third floor of Worrell. Approximately 25 students attended the oral arguments in the courtroom, while all students, faculty, and staff were invited to view the arguments from the first floor auditorium where the event was being live streamed.
Three cases were heard, including Jordan Jones v. George Solomon, a civil case surrounding an Eighth Amendment violation claim related to cell conditions in a prison and a First Amendment retaliatory transfer claim. The Judges fired off questions to both the prosecution and the defense as they tried to determine whether the actions of the involved officers were actually considered “cruel and unusual punishment.” The auditorium was packed with viewers, most of whom were Wake Forest Law students.
After the oral arguments, the Office of Career and Professional Development hosted a special session of its Table Talk Tuesday series. Representatives from the Federal Defender Office of the Middle District of NC and the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of NC discussed their experience, offered career advice, and answered questions.
At noon, select students were invited to join the Judges and their clerks for lunch. Lunch was followed by a Town Hall with the Judges and their clerks, moderated by Professor Audra Savage. Dean Andy Klein introduced the casual panel conversation, during which Judges discussed their career paths and offered advice to students and the clerks shared a bit about their backgrounds and the skills and qualities required to clerk for a judge. The Judges all agreed that while becoming a judge often requires being in the right place at the right time, there really is no magic formula; it takes a lot of hard work and determination. The Judges also emphasized the importance of clerks in the judicial system, stating that many clerks are surprised at the level of responsibility they have. The Town Hall concluded with questions from the audience and an emphatic round of applause for the panelists.
The full day of events ended with an intimate dinner at the Graylyn, where Wake Forest Law faculty mingled with the Judges, clerks, and others. And although it was Halloween, there were no tricks—only treats!—as the day was a big success and a great opportunity for the Wake Forest Law community to engage with the federal appellate court.