PUBLISHED:April 29, 2010

Appellate Litigation Clinic prevails in Fourth Circuit

Duke's Appellate Litigation Clinic won another victory Wednesday, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a published decision in favor of clinic client Tyrone Robinson.

A team of third-year clinic students — David Chiang, Daniel Mandell, and Christopher Vieira — worked under the supervision of clinic co-director Sean Andrussier on the civil rights case Robinson v. Clipse from briefing through oral argument. Vieira argued on March 23 before a panel that included Fourth Circuit judges Roger L. Gregory and G. Steven Agee, and Senior Sixth Circuit Judge Eugene E. Siler sitting by designation.

"The students did a great job on this appeal and I'm proud of them," said Andrussier, who was appointed to represent Tyrone Robinson by the Fourth Circuit. "And the client is thrilled," he added.

After being shot multiple times by a South Carolina Highway Patrol officer in the course of an arrest, Robinson, who was unarmed, brought a civil rights action, alleging the use of excessive force in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. He lost on summary judgment in the district court under the statute of limitations. His appeal involved issues of civil procedure, particularly concerning the proper operation of Federal Rule 15(c)'s "relation back" doctrine.

The ruling and published opinion issued Wednesday reversed the summary judgment and remanded the case to the district court.

Andrussier and Professor James E. Coleman, Jr. direct Duke's Appellate Litigation Clinic. The clinic handles federal appeals in the D.C. Circuit and Fourth Circuit.