Duke’s Appellate Litigation Clinic notches a win in Fourth Circuit

September 12, 2007Duke Law News

Sept. 12, 2007 -- The Appellate Litigation Clinic scored a victory in its first case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Lyons v. Weisner. The Court announced its decision on Sept. 11, issuing a writ of habeas corpus for the clinic’s client, Carl E. Lyons, who is currently serving a 30-year sentence in a North Carolina prison for for kidnapping and forcible rape. The three judges who heard the appeal were in agreement that Lyons’ sentence was unconstitutional in light of the Supreme Court’s 2004 ruling in Blakely v. Washington.

The case was briefed by students in the clinic’s inaugural class, 2007 graduates Matthew Howell, Christopher Montville, Anastasia Wade, Tina Duan, and Christopher Murray. Murray argued the case before the Fourth Circuit on Jan. 30, 2007. Professors James Coleman, Catherine Fisk, and Erwin Chemerinsky who supervise the clinic, credit the students’ excellent work for the extraordinary win.

The clinic’s next case, also briefed during the last academic year, will be argued in the Fourth Circuit on Sept. 25, by 3L Leeann Rosnick. In that case, United States v. Weymouth, the defendant pleaded guilty based on incorrect advice from his lawyer about the possible sentence, and was sentenced based on information that the government had promised in the plea agreement that it would not use against him.
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