PUBLISHED:June 14, 2022

Appellate Litigation Clinic presents pair of Third Circuit oral arguments over two days


Two teams of students in the yearlong clinic researched and briefed appeals on behalf of a state habeas petitioner and a federal prisoner.

Students from the Appellate Litigation Clinic presented oral arguments in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on May 25 and 26 in Philadelphia.

Students posing at courthouse
L-R: Huennekens, Clemente, Hallowell, Brown

Elizabeth Brown ’22 argued the appeal in Kennedy v. Superintendent Dallas SCI, and Beresford (Bere) Clarke ’22 argued in United States v. Norwood. In both cases the panel consisted of Third Circuit Judges Cheryl Ann Krause and Peter Phipps and District Judge Richard Stearns sitting by designation from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

“Arguing before the Third Circuit was truly the culmination of my legal education,” said Clarke. “Both that challenge, as well as the Appellate Litigation Clinic more generally, required me and my classmates to bring the skills we have learned at Duke Law School to bear on a real-world problem. I cannot think of a better bridge between education and practice.” 

Added Brown: “Arguing before the Third Circuit was a phenomenal experience. We had an engaged panel that asked challenging questions and it was an honor to present our client’s case before them. I’m incredibly grateful for the hard work and support of my teammates and Professor Andrussier in developing our argument from initial research and briefing to oral argument over this past academic year.”

The Kennedy appeal was researched and briefed by a team consisting of Brown, Brendan Clemente ’22, Lewis Hallowell ’22, and Kendall Huennekens ’22. The team on the Norwood appeal consisted of Clarke, Lauren Johnson ’22, Karen Sheng ’22, and Emmy Wydman ’22.

Students posing with professor at courthouse
L-R: Clarke, Sheng, Andrussier, Johnson, Wydman

The teams were supervised by Clinical Professor Sean Andrussier ’92, the clinic director, whom the Third Circuit appointed as pro bono appellate counsel for Chal Kennedy, Jr. in his appeal and as amicus counsel in support of appellant Michael Norwood in his appeal. In both cases the students entered appearances in the Third Circuit as student counsel.

The Kennedy appeal challenged district court rulings on procedural default and the merits of his claim that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial, where the delay between Kennedy’s arrest and his trial was more than four years. The Norwood appeal involved a constitutional issue under the ex post facto clause as well as several issues of statutory interpretation and criminal procedure.

“My work in the clinic served as a timely reminder of the human element of every legal case which can feel intangible in a law school classroom, as well as the immense power and responsibility that lawyers bear towards our clients and the justice system, said Huennekens. “I was inspired daily by the tireless work of my clinic teammates, and know that I will enter my legal career a more fair and effective advocate as a result of this experience.”

Added Clemente: “The Appellate Litigation Clinic was a fulfilling opportunity to improve my legal skills, and more importantly to represent a real client in a challenging case.

Andrussier noted that the students had to explore multiple novel questions of law and learn an array of doctrine. “They researched, drafted, and edited briefs, worked with extensive record materials, prepared for the oral arguments, and along the way made a number of strategic and tactical decisions,” he said. “This rigorous experience will prepare them for practice.”