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North Carolina Court of Appeals Visits Wake Forest Law

On September 20, Wake Forest Law hosted the North Carolina Court of Appeals at Worrell Professional Center. Judge John Tyson, Judge Allegra Collins, and Judge April Wood comprised the panel, which heard two cases. The hearings were open to students, faculty, staff, and the public.

Court was called into session with the customary call of “Oyez, oyez, oyez,” and the hearings began.

The first case, State of North Carolina v. Daniel Peacock, was a criminal case out of Henderson County. Officers entered Mr. Peacock’s home and then an interior bedroom of the home to serve a search warrant. Two officers testified that the occupant of the bedroom, Defendant Peacock, resisted their commands and reached under the bed for a baseball bat. A jury convicted Peacock of resisting a public officer. On appeal, Assistant Appellate Defender David Hallen, a recent law school graduate who was arguing his first-ever case, argued that the search warrant did not yet exist at the time the officers entered the home, thus the State was unable to meet two elements of the resisting offense (officer acted lawfully and defendant resisted without justification). The State, represented by Special Deputy Attorney General Daniel Covas, argued that the resisting conviction was proper because the homeowner had given police permission to enter the residence the day prior.

“It was a ‘hot bench,’” said Professor John Korzen, director of Wake Forest Law’s Appellate Advocacy Clinic. Professor Korzen discussed the case beforehand with his Appellate Advocacy Clinic class. “This case was a great teaching tool because there were strong arguments for the defendant.”

The second case heard by the judges was Hale v. MacLoed, Page, and Green Farms Co. This civil case involved a $250,000 loan by the plaintiff to the defendants’ North Carolina hemp business. The business was later liquidated in Michigan, with only a small payment to the Plaintiff. The trial court allowed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss made by Defendant Page, who was the company’s CEO. On appeal, the Plaintiff contended that seven of the claims should not have been dismissed. The Plaintiff alleged that Page and MacLoed fraudulently induced him to make the loan, violated securities laws, committed breaches of contract, and breached a fiduciary duty, among other allegations.

Professor Meghan Boone brought her civil procedure students to watch the proceedings, as the case was relevant to what they were studying in class. “I was thrilled to give my civil procedure students a chance to see a live oral argument on a motion to dismiss,” says Professor Boone. “It was an invaluable opportunity to give them insight into not only the legal frameworks that we are learning about in class, but the way that these frameworks are used by advocates in real legal disputes.”

After the arguments, the judges took questions from the audience and attended a reception where students and faculty could meet them. The North Carolina Court of Appeals comes to Wake Forest Law once each year to give law students the chance to watch the appeals process in action.

Watch the proceedings here.

Young Amazonian Leaders, representatives from the Sabin Center, and Wake Forest Law faculty

Wake Forest Law Welcomes Young Indigenous Leaders from Peruvian Amazon

The week of September 5, Wake Forest’s Andrew Sabin Family Center for Environment and Sustainability (formerly known as the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (CEES)) hosted a delegation of young Indigenous leaders from the Peruvian Amazon. The multi-day event, which was a collaboration between Wake Forest’s Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation (CINCIA), the US Department of State (via the embassy in Peru), and a number of funders, included seven young Indigenous leaders from six different regions in Peru. Also participating were Edgar Flores, a representative from the US Embassy in Peru (and the first Indigenous staff member at that embassy), Marta Torres and Carmen Acho from CINCIA, and Luis Fernandez, Executive Director of CINCIA and Wake Forest University research professor of biology.

A portion of the program took place at Wake Forest University from September 5-8. The young leaders then traveled to Washington, DC from September 9-12. The goal of the visit to Wake Forest was to strengthen the capacities of these young Amazonian leaders in Peru to exercise their rights on issues of importance to them, including tribal education, gender equality, community surveillance systems, sustainable economic activities, and the sustainable use and conservation of natural resources for the benefit of their communities and the environment. The young leaders are reporting their learnings back to their communities at ExpoAmazónica, a large conference of Indigenous groups in Peru, this fall.

Wake Forest Law welcomed the Indigenous leaders on September 6 for a lunch workshop with Professor John Knox and Professor Scott Schang. Two of the young leaders also spoke at the event. Their remarks were interpreted from Spanish to English by faculty and alumni of Wake Forest’s Interpreting and Translation Studies Graduate Program, who also interpreted the presentations by Professor Knox and Professor Schang into Spanish.

Professor Knox spoke on human rights law and Indigenous land rights. He presented on four specific rights that were relevant to the Indigenous leaders: the right to recognition—to have their ancestral territorial limits demarcated and protected; the right to informed prior consent—to be consulted and to give or withhold consent for actions that adversely affect them; the right to self-determination—to be able to decide for themselves their own path for land development; and the right to remedies—if their lands are used, they have the right to the benefits of that usage or if the land has been taken away, they have the right to restitution. He gave a brief overview of the courses of action the Indigenous leaders can take when these rights are violated, including filing complaints with various bodies of experts, such as the United Nations. “While there wouldn’t automatically be remedies to the violations, filing complaints with an international body can raise visibility and get a binding decision to enforce and protect your rights,” he told the leaders.

Professor Schang, director of the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, then spoke to the audience about some of the ways that law school clinics help people with securing their land rights, as well as how the Indigenous leaders could leverage companies to intervene on their behalf. “Many multinational companies have said they will abide by the system of international human rights,” said Professor Schang. “If your country’s government isn’t abiding by those rights, you are within your rights to submit complaints through the various channels available.”

After the professors spoke, two of the young Indigenous leaders took the podium. Nayap Santiago Velásquez of the Wampis Nation discussed how 1.37 million hectares (larger than the size of Connecticut) of the Amazonian forest is taken care of by the Wampis Nation, and that protecting their ancestral homeland is integral to protecting the Amazon. Danitza Cenepo Tapullima spoke about some of the ways in which she and her Indigenous sisters have helped to combat violence against women in their region. Both speeches were powerful testaments to the key role that youth leaders play in the fight to protect their land and their people.

The session was a valuable reminder of the many benefits of radical collaboration across Wake Forest University. Thanks to the partnership between the Sabin Center, CINCIA, Wake Forest Law, and other campus departments, the program was a success and demonstrated how we can and must collaborate across disciplines, generations, and geographies to find solutions to major global issues.

Read more about the program.

Young Indigenous Leaders from Peruvian Amazon

Young Indigenous leader

NCWRC Boating Law Enforcement

Wake Forest Law, NC State, and NC Wildlife Resources Commission Collaborate to Ensure Safety on NC Waterways

In 2022, 148 boating incidents occurred in North Carolina, resulting in dozens of deaths. Even with robust boating regulations, training resources available to boaters, and a number of boating safety campaigns, boating safety remains a concern for the thousands of boaters on North Carolina’s waterways. Ensuring effective adherence to boating laws requires a multi-pronged, collaborative approach.

This is just what Wake Forest Law professors Alyse Bertenthal and Scott Schang are aiming to do. Through a recently-awarded grant from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC, ncwildlife.org), they are partnering with biologists, wildlife law enforcement officers, social scientists, and policy analysts to leverage expertise from across fields to improve boating safety law and the practices of law enforcement.

The two primary goals of the project are: 1) to use data to determine practices, programs, and legal structures that promote compliance with boating safety laws and regulations; and 2) to develop interventions to improve compliance with safety laws. “The questions we are seeking to help law enforcement answer are how are officers interpreting and implementing laws through daily practice?” says Professor Bertenthal. “How are they making decisions, and are there ways to structure those processes to ensure that boating safety laws are applied effectively and equitably?”

Project co-investigators include professors from North Carolina State University, Drs. Nils Peterson and Krishna Pacifici in the Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology Program. Additionally, all of the work being done is in consultation with the NCWRC and representatives of the agency. “The overall goal of the NCWRC’s Law Enforcement Division is to provide the boating public with a safe and enjoyable recreational boating experience through both law enforcement efforts and educational opportunities,” says Maj. Mark Dutton, the agency’s State Boating Law Administrator. “We are excited to partner with Wake Forest Law and NC State and look forward to seeing what their research shows. We value any measures that would overall improve public safety and the boating experience.” Major Dutton is joined on the project by NCWRC staff Carrie Ruhlman, Cristina Watkins, Fairley Mahlum, Capt. Branden Jones, and Amy Braun. “This project builds valuable partnerships between Wake Forest, NC State, and the Wildlife Resources Commission,” says Bertenthal. “It promises to make an impact in North Carolina by generating knowledge about effective and efficient law enforcement practices to ensure boating safety.”

In addition to analyzing statistical data collected by the NCWRC, investigators will conduct interviews, review observational data from ride-alongs with law enforcement officers, and conduct boater surveys. The investigators will also review case files and interview assistant district attorneys to identify legal outcomes and law enforcement officer practices that affect those outcomes. Investigators will use the data analysis to develop interventions and best practices–-effectively turning data collection and analysis into tangible solutions.

The project also leverages student interest in real-world law enforcement practices. Professors Bertenthal and Schang will incorporate research activities and analysis into their courses, providing students an avenue for hands-on, experiential learning—a hallmark of a Wake Forest Law education. “This presents students with a terrific opportunity to understand how law enforcement works in the field while contributing to the Commission’s efforts to improve the effectiveness of their efforts,” says Schang. “Students will not only gain insight into how science is used vis-a-vis the law, but they will also have the chance to think creatively and strategically about applying the law.”

The collaboration between scholars, students, and agencies offers an exciting model for research that has potential to effect change throughout the state. Boaters traverse more than 5,000 miles of North Carolina waters and it is critical that they understand and comply with the rules and regulations to ensure safety. Ongoing examination of law enforcement practices through projects like this provide important opportunities for delivering that assurance.


Accountable Prosecutor Project Releases National Report on State Absolute Immunity Law

In 2021, Wake Forest Law launched its Accountable Prosecutor Project, a research arm of the Foundation for Prosecutorial Accountability. The Project’s purpose is to research the current landscape of prosecutor accountability mechanisms as well as ways to improve prosecutor transparency and connection with communities. Since then, 13 research assistants and 4 attorney volunteers have worked with Project Director Eileen Prescott to assemble the Accountable Prosecutor Project’s first major report on absolute immunity law.

This report is a survey of the case law in each state’s courts (not federal courts) regarding lawsuits against prosecutors. In most states, prosecutors are protected by “absolute immunity,” which is even more protective than the qualified immunity that protects law enforcement officers. Typically, absolute immunity means that people cannot sue prosecutors even for malicious misconduct, as long as the prosecutor’s action was related to their job. But there are always exceptions: legislators and courts in each state must decide what behavior is outside of a prosecutor’s role and if there are any circumstances where the immunity should be abridged. This report compiles the unique approach of each state in one place so that academics and practitioners can analyze them in the aggregate.

Key takeaways from this national report on state absolute immunity law include:

  • Several states do not apply absolute immunity to prosecutors, relying on sovereign immunity or qualified immunity when prosecutors are sued.
  • Most states act in the shadow of federal law on the matter, reacting to federal Supreme Court cases that carve out exceptions for non-judicial prosecutor duties such as press conferences or on-scene investigation.
  • The question of absolute immunity for prosecutors has never reached the highest court of 11 states, and 62% of states had five or fewer relevant cases in their history.

The full report is available here.

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Sager Speaker Series Hosts Marilyn T. McClure-Demers, Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Nationwide

On November 3, Wake Forest Law students gathered for the second Sager Speaker Series honored guest: Marilyn T. McClure-Demers.

The Sager Speaker Series is named for Wake Forest alumnus Thomas Sager (JD ’76), former vice president and general counsel for DuPont Co. and current partner at Ballard Spahr LLP. Sager was a strong and early proponent of diversity in the legal profession and helped pioneer the DuPont Convergence and Law Firm Partnering Program, or DuPont Legal Model. This industry benchmark has received national acclaim for its innovative approach to practicing law. Continue reading »

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Wake Forest Law Appellate Advocacy Clinic Students Write Their Way To The United States Supreme Court

In May 2022, Wake Forest Law students Sophia Sulzer (JD ’23), Maryclaire Farrington (JD ’23), and Jacob Winton (JD ’23) were preparing for their last Summer Recess before the start of their 3L year. All three students were enrolled in the Appellate Advocacy Clinic, led by Clinic Director Professor John Korzen, and assumed that their clinic work would begin at the start of the Fall 2022 Semester. They never imagined that they would be making a trip to Washington, D.C. for an experience law students dream about. Sulzer, Farrington, and Winton spent their summers not only working at full-time internships, but also virtually collaborating to write an amicus brief that would be filed in the United States Supreme Court. Continue reading »

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“Redemption” for a Wake Forest Law Veterans Legal Clinic Client

Due to the efforts of Veterans Legal Clinic students Allison Spears and Walker Helms, under the supervision of Clinic Director Eleanor Morales, a clinic client now has an Honorable discharge and veteran status under the law. Continue reading »

American Bar Association survey shows over 96% employment rate for Wake Forest Law in 2021

The American Bar Association (ABA) recently released the law school employment results for 2021 graduates from law schools across the country. Wake Forest Law ranked No. 3 out of 196 law schools in the number of graduates employed in full-time, long-term positions requiring a bar license or for which the JD is an advantage. As of March 15, 2022, 96.53% of Wake Forest Law’s 2021 graduates have employment in these “gold standard” jobs.

The class of 2021 has made its mark at the Wake Forest University School of Law. Graduates play an integral part in the institution’s future. When students come to law school, they have the reasonable expectation that they will pass the bar, get a meaningful job and not have enormous debt. Wake Forest Law is meeting those expectations. Being ranked No. 3 further confirms that a Wake Forest Law education propels students forward.

“These positive outcomes certainly reflect the quality of our students and the education they receive, but it is also a result of the investment of the law school in working with students from their first year of law school on the formation of a professional identity: understanding the career options available, internalizing the character qualities of a lawyer, and having the right tools to seek out and obtain the opportunities they want” said Francie Scott, Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development. “We have a highly professional staff that provides key industry knowledge, maintains strong relationships with alumni and other stakeholders, and is deeply committed to seeing each student succeed.”

The ABA employment ranking is just the latest news involving Wake Forest Law’s outstanding reputation. On March 29, 2022, U.S. News & World Report ranked Wake Forest Law No. 37 out of the top 50 law schools in the country, tying with Boston College (MA), Fordham University (NY), University of California–Davis, University of California–Irvine, and University of Utah (Quinney). While the school consistently ranks among the top-tier law schools, this is the second rise in the rankings in the last two years.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Wake Forest Students are getting wonderful jobs. They are smart, strategic, collaborative and, despite all their talent, do not act as if they are entitled,” said Dean Jane Aiken. “The class of 2021 shows that what we are doing at Wake Forest Law is working!”

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Alumni Spotlight: Angelia Duncan (JD ’10)

For Rose Council Chair Angelia Duncan (JD ‘10), Accepted Students Day of 2007 solidified her choice to become a Legal Deac. She remembers sitting down for lunch with her father, looking around at the other accepted students, and taking in the moment. Since then, Duncan has taken on the legal world and its challenges head-on.

Duncan currently resides in Charlotte, NC, and practices with Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. She focuses on commercial litigation. She says that every day is a chance for her to learn something new and have a unique experience.

“No two days are the same,” said Duncan, “No matter how long I practice, there is always something to learn.”

Duncan was on the Wake Forest Law campus for the Spring Board and Council meetings held on March 31 and April 1. Being back on campus, even though it had changed quite a bit, felt like home. Her experiences with faculty and staff stay at the forefront of her memories.

“I think the fundamentals that I learned shaped who I am as a lawyer. We had such good Legal Writing Training. When I got to the firm, I already had these fundamental basics that would make my first year practicing easier.”

Along with her service on the Rose Council, the young alumni council, Duncan has some advice to share with the Class of 2022:

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” urges Duncan to the graduating class, “Odds are that someone else has gone through a similar case and people are around to help you.”


Wake Forest Law Students argued in-person before the NC Court of Appeals since 2019

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, courts across the country were forced to pause hearings in person and move into virtual courtrooms. This change impacted many in the legal world, but clinics at Wake Forest University School of Law were impacted greatly. Students who entered their first year of school in 2019 were unable to practice in courtroom settings at all. But for the Appellate Advocacy Clinic, which had not had a case in-person since September 2019, was finally able to have students argue in person on March 8, 2022.

Third-year law students Chelsey Phelps and Jacqueline Winters, overseen by Professor John Korzen, argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, VA in a case where the court-appointed the Appellate Advocacy Clinic. Leading up to the in-person arguments, Phelps and Winters had arguments over Zoom in January, May, and September of 2021, and again in January 2022.

The case of the appellant raised an ex post facto claim after 23 years of previously earned good time credit was added to the appellant’s sentence after they violated a condition of their parole. Phelps argued three procedural issues, while Winters argued the ex post facto issue.

“Professor Korzen was incredibly helpful in preparing us for the experience,” said Phelps when asked about the hands-on, experiential education of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic, “I found that oral arguments outside of the classroom are much more of a conversation and a little less formulaic than what you may do for your LAWR class or a competition.”

“Through a combination of readings and class discussions, our team was well-equipped to write an effective brief that articulated the complicated issues in this case,” said Winters.

In addition to Phelps and Winters arguing before the United States Court of Appeals, students Ali Meyer and Rachel Ormand assisted in the research and wrote two briefs for the case.

The case is estimated to have a decision in June 2022, but some cases have taken longer to receive a decision from the court. Professor John Korzen is the Director of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic and an Associate Professor of Legal Writing. Business North Carolina named Professor Korzen among its 20th class of “Legal Elite” in appellate law in North Carolina, placing him among the three percent of the state’s lawyers who were selected by their peers for this recognition in their respective fields.