Kaeli Czosek (’23) Argues in the North Carolina Court of Appeals

On Wednesday, May 24, recent Wake Forest Law graduate Kaeli Czosek (’23) presented an oral argument in Raleigh to a panel of three North Carolina Court of Appeals judges—Judge John Tyson, Judge Valerie Zachary, and Judge Michael Stading—in the case of State v. Minyard. Kaeli argued as part of Wake Forest Law’s Appellate Advocacy Clinic, under the supervision of Professor John Korzen (’91), who argued the rebuttal.

The defendant in the case was charged with multiple felonies. During the original trial in 2012, the defendant, who pleaded innocent, passed out while the jury was deliberating and was sent to the hospital. Rather than pausing the trial to ensure a Due Process fair trial, the jury continued their deliberation, ultimately finding the defendant guilty.

Three North Carolina Supreme Court cases decided since then have considered the issue of how trial courts should address competency issues arising during trial.

The defendant  appealed from the denial of his motion for appropriate relief. The Office of the North Carolina Appellate Defender appointed Professor Korzen as his representation. Professor Korzen is the Director of Wake Forest Law’s Appellate Advocacy Clinic, which represents indigents and non-profits in various appellate courts. The Appellate Advocacy Clinic, which appears in more appellate courts than any other appellate clinic in the country, enables law students like Kaeli Czosek to gain experience by working on real cases.

“I am extremely proud of Kaeli. She did a great job making her points and answering at least 25 questions,” said Professor Korzen. “It was a very ‘hot bench,’” he added, “especially Judge Tyson and Judge Zachary.” An opinion is expected in the next 2-3 months.

Also attending to support the two were Wake Forest Law Appellate Advocacy Clinic members Shelby Gilmer (’23), Claire Thompson (’23), Tyler Fuller (’23), and Savannah Corbin (’24).

To prepare for the argument, Kaeli worked with classmates Walker Abbott (’23) and Lane Burbrink (’23) to research and write two briefs. She also scheduled four practices in advance of the 26-minute argument and was mooted by her professors and classmates, including Walker Abbott (’23), Malcolm Boyd (Director of Field Placements and Student Competitions), Laura Merriman (’23), Tanner Henson (’23), Professor John Korzen (’91), Shelby Gilmer (’23), Professor Eileen Prescott, Professor Allyson Gold, Sophia Sulzer (’23), Claire Thompson (’23), and Kyle Brantley (’23).

Kaeli is a recipient of the 2023 Dean’s Award and is a 2023 graduate of Wake Forest Law. She will be clerking for Judge Richard Dietz (’01) at the North Carolina Supreme Court starting this fall.

Kaeli was the fifty-second Wake Forest law student to argue under Professor Korzen’s supervision since 2007, in a variety of appellate courts. This was only the fourth time that a law student has argued in the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and all four have been Wake Forest students.

Professor Korzen and Appellate Advocacy Clinic students Professor Korzen and Appellate Advocacy Clinic students