PUBLISHED:April 14, 2010

Meghan Ferguson '10 argues in D.C. Circuit

Meghan Ferguson, a student in Duke's Appellate Litigation Clinic, argued a case in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on April 13. Ferguson argued Boniface v. Department of Homeland Security on behalf of the petitioner before a panel consisting of Judges Douglas Ginsburg, Judith Rogers, and Janice Rogers Brown.

The D.C. Circuit appointed Sean Andrussier, co-director of the Appellate Litigation Clinic, to support the petitioner, Lewis Boniface. Boniface is a 61-year-old commercial truck driver who in 2008 had his trucking license taken away by the Department of Homeland Security based on a conviction for an offense he committed in 1975. Boniface’s appeal challenged the use of the 33-year-old conviction itself on the grounds that it was obtained in violation of an interstate compact that has the force of federal law, explained Andrussier. The appeal further challenged the agency's regulations, enacted under the USA PATRIOT Act, which automatically disqualify truckers based on certain past convictions, and the agency's adjudication deeming him ineligible for a waiver.

Under Andrussier's supervision, a team of 3L clinic students — Sam Burness, Kristin Collins Cope, Lisa Hoppenjans, and Ferguson — worked on the appeal from briefing through argument.

“These students did a fantastic job in helping develop the issues and arguments in this complex appeal,” said Andrussier, who previously clerked on the D.C. Circuit. “Their research and writing skills and judgment helped produce quality briefs, and their preparation for oral argument helped the argument go smoothly in Washington.

“Meghan Ferguson did a great job arguing the case, and Mr. Boniface has been absolutely thrilled by the support and impressed by the dedication and work of these students,” he added.

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.