“No voice is too soft when that voice speaks for others.”- Janna Cachola
Watching Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky these past weeks has been a master class in leadership and a reminder that there is no greater leadership skill than the power of authentic persuasion.
That is why I am so proud of our award-winning Moot Court and Mock Trial Teams and the groundbreaking work of our C|M|LAW Appellate Practice Clinic founded and directed by Clinical Professor Doron Kalir.
Today, the importance of our appellate judicial system takes center stage when the U.S. Senate begins confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated by President Biden to take a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Jackson is currently a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Under the supervision of Professor Kalir, our Appellate Clinic represents clients from under-represented backgrounds – such as immigrants, prisoners, LGBTQ+ members, and others – before appellate tribunals such as the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Ohio 8th District Court of Appeals. The Clinic also files Amicus Briefs in cases of national interest.
The Clinic has won its last three appeals with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and several others before the 8th District Court of Appeals.
Earlier this month, our Appellant Clinic was retained by Ms. B., who applied pro-se for guardianship of her niece in the probate court. While she won the case below, the niece's biological mother appealed the case to the 8th District Court of Appeals. Ms. B. then called our Appellate Clinic for help.
Our students, Kristin Davis, Michael Dunham, Patricia Huntley, and Amanda Schenley, conducted thorough research into Ohio guardianship law, producing a stellar appellate brief.
A semester later, a second group of students began preparing for the oral argument. Nicole Johnson and Victoria Kekel were great team players, investing hours and weekends in preparing fellow student Martin DiMichelle to argue the case before the Court of Appeals.
On March 3, the Court issued its opinion, accepting our Clinic's arguments in full - both the procedural ones as well as those on the merits. The Court thus affirmed the decision below, and held that Ms. B. will remain the guardian of her niece. The client was truly happy with our pro-bono service, and thanked our students and Professor Kalir profusely.
This is just one of many examples where students in our Appellate Clinic have scored impressive victories. See Appellate Practice Clinic Secures Victory in Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and Appellate Practice Clinic Students Successful In Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals
Our students have learned that they can stand up to the best of the best. They represented a pr0-se prisoner in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and secured reversal. They argued on behalf of an immigrant that a new policy requires a continuance of his deportation proceedings, and won.
One of Professor Kalir’s former students stated, "I wanted to work on real cases in the Clinic, assisting real clients and learning the ins and outs of appellate lawyering. This case wound up being so much more than that, going beyond what I hoped to experience in the Clinic."
This invaluable work requires our students to rise to the highest standards. From perfecting an appeal brief - often 50-pages long - to formulating a reply brief; from preparing for oral argument, to thinking about the 4-mintue rebuttal while the other attorney is arguing. They do this while adhering to the strictest requirements - from perfect citation rules, to font size, to word limit; from proper use of legal authorities to properly describing the existing law; from announcing the proper legal standard to explaining the errors made by the court below.
Our students also learn how much work and strategic thinking goes in to each appeal. They learn about the process of writing effective persuasion techniques. They learn that the devil is in details, when they review, edit, and proofread the entire brief over and over before submission.
Thanks to Professor Doron Kalir, the powerful experience our students receive in our Appellate Practice Clinic is another example of how we prepare our graduates to be practice-ready and to be effective, authentic, persuasive advocates in the pursuit of justice.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Committed to Living Justice.
Have a great day. Have a great week.
Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law | Cleveland State University
Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law
For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages.