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.