The Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic handles complex public-interest appeals. Because the Clinic launched in January 2017, we are able to provide information on our litigation for only three semesters. The Clinic director – Brian Wolfman – previously directed the Civil Rights clinic at Georgetown’s Institute for Public Representation (IPR), which did both trial-court and appellate litigation. In that capacity, he mentored teams of Georgetown Law students handling a range of complex public-interest appeals similar to those now being handled by the Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic. Therefore, below, we provide a list of some of our litigation followed by a partial list of IPR appeals. (Some of the Clinic’s briefs can be accessed by clicking on the links below; for more recent briefs, please contact

Spring Semester 2020

  • Kelly v. City of Alexandria, et al. (Kelly I) (4th Cir.) (pending) ─ whether employment-discrimination claims against a city and its officers are (1) valid under applicable federal civil-rights law (Section 1983), and (2) whether the filing period for certain Title VII claims may be equitably tolled (Clinic wrote opening brief)
  • C.W. v. Denver County School District (10th Cir.) (pending) concerning what exhaustion of administrative remedies entails under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Fry v. Napoleon Public Schools (Clinic wrote opening brief)
  • Rad v. Barr, U.S. Attorney General (3rd Cir.) (pending) ─ concerning whether, under both the “categorical approach” and the “circumstance-specific approach,” a legal permanent resident may be removed to his country of citizenship on the ground that he committed an “aggravated felony” under federal law (Clinic wrote opening brief and reply brief)
  • Kelly v. City of Alexandria, et al. (Kelly II) (4th Cir.) (pending)whether employment-discrimination claims against city officers are (1) valid under applicable federal civil-rights law (Section 1983) or (2) precluded by prior litigation (Clinic wrote opening brief and reply brief)
  • Thomas v. Baca, et al. (9th Cir.) (pending) ─ whether (1) the court of appeals has jurisdiction to hear this qualified-immunity appeal, and/or (2) our client has a right to religious meals under the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (Clinic wrote answering brief for the appellee)

Fall Semester 2019

  • Real v. Perry, F. App’x, 2020 WL 1922914 (11th Cir. 2020) ─ whether police officer’s brandishing of gun in face of unarmed citizen with threat to shoot, accompanied by use of virulent racial slur, violates Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable seizures or the Due Process Clause (Clinic wrote opening brief and reply brief)
  • Ledford v. Baenen, No. 19-1694 (7th Cir.) ─ whether toxic emissions and frigid temperatures in prison cell block violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments (Clinic wrote opening brief )
  • Creese v. City of New York, F. App’x, 2020 WL 2755698 (2d Cir. 2020) ─ concerning the constitutional standards for imposing liability on police officers for false arrest and malicious prosecution (Clinic wrote opening brief and reply brief) (Listen to Immersion Clinic student Kalen Pruss’s present oral argument before the Second Circuit)
  • United States v. Dorsey, No. 19-30001 (9th Cir. Dec. 18, 2019) ─ concerning the First Amendment right of access to court documents in criminal cases (Clinic wrote opening brief)

Spring Semester 2019

  • Peterson v. Linear Controls Incorporated (S. Ct.) (pending) ─ whether employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is limited to only “ultimate” actions, such as demotion and firing, or rather covers all discriminatory conduct by employers (Clinic wrote cert-stage amicus brief)
  • Molina-Aranda v. Black Magic Enterprises (5th Cir.) (pending) ─ concerning standards for pleading federal RICO and wage-and-hour claims on behalf of foreign guest workers under federal H-2B program (Clinic wrote opening brief and reply brief)
  • Taylor v. J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, 958 F.3d 556 (7th Cir. 2020) ─ concerning banks’ obligations to modify distressed mortgages under state law and the federal HAMP program enacted by Congress in response to the Great Recession (Clinic wrote opening brief and reply brief)
  • [Doe] v. William Barr, U.S. Attorney General (XX Cir.) ─ whether our client, an undocumented immigrant, is entitled to deferral of removal from the United States under the Convention Against Torture because she is likely to face torture in her home country (Clinic wrote opening and reply briefs, but we cannot post the briefs here; the filings in the appeal are sealed because of the risk public disclosure would pose to our client.)

Fall Semester 2018

  • Graviss v. Department of Defense, No. 18-1061 (U.S. Supreme Court) ─ whether violation of the time limit for taking an appeal from the Merit Systems Protection Board to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals is an absolute jurisdictional bar to the suit or, rather, is a “claim-processing” rule subject to exceptions (Clinic wrote Supreme Court petition for certiorari and reply brief)
  • Ritter v. Brady, Chapter 7 Trustee, No. 18-747 (U.S. Supreme Court) ─ whether an underwater mortgage lien may be stripped down/off in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy—that is, whether Dewsnup v. Timm, 502 U.S. 410 (1992), should be overruled (Clinic wrote Supreme Court petition for certiorari )
  • Burningham v. Raines, No. 18-747 (U.S. Supreme Court) ─ regarding whether the court of appeals had jurisdiction to consider whether police officers who shot our client were entitled to qualified immunity (Clinic students researched and drafted opposition to certiorari in collaboration with Arkansas law firm James & Carter)

Spring Semester 2018

  • Golden v. Indianapolis Housing Agency, No. 17-1113 (U.S. Supreme Court) ─ whether cancer patients and others who need multi-month leave to treat their disabilities are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (Clinic wrote cert-stage amicus brief for national cancer survivors’ organizations)
  • United States v. Mitchell, 905 F.3d 991 (6th Cir. 2018) ─ whether our client’s sentence (1) was unlawfully lengthened under the Armed Career Criminal Act and (2) contained an unlawful supervised release term (Clinic wrote answering brief as appellee and reply brief as cross-appellant)
  • Cirocco v. McMahon, 768 F. App’x 854 (10th Cir. 2019) ─ whether administrative exhaustion under Title VII, the federal law prohibiting employment discrimination, is a jurisdictional prerequisite to suit and other key issues concerning the hostile-work-environment doctrine (Clinic wrote opening brief and reply brief)
  • In re Lithium Ion Batteries Antitrust Litigation, 777 F. App’x 221 (9th Cir. 2019) ─ whether a nationwide class-action settlement that treats groups of class members with claims of greatly different value identically is authorized by federal class-action law (Clinic students researched and drafted opening brief for objector Center for Class Action Fairness)

Fall Semester 2017

  • Alvarez v. City of Brownsville, 904 F.3d 382 (5th Cir. 2019) (en banc) ─ whether the government must disclose exculpatory evidence to a criminal defendant before entering a plea agreement under the principles of Brady v. Maryland (Clinic wrote en banc brief on behalf of wrongly-convicted, actually-innocent defendant)
  • Jones v. Medtronic, 745 F. App’x 714 (9th Cir. 2018) ─ whether federal medical-device law preempts state-law damages claims caused by certain defective medical devices (Clinic wrote opening and reply briefs)
  • Haywood v. Massage Envy, 887 F.3d 329 (7th Cir. 2018) ─ concerning the breadth of the consumer-protection statutes of Missouri and Illinois (Clinic wrote opening and reply briefs)
  • Montgomery Country, Maryland v. Complete Lawn Care, Inc., 207 A. 3d 365 (Md. Ct. Spec. App.), cert denied, 212 A. 2d 395 (2019) ─ whether state pesticide law bars counties from adopting environmental-protection ordinances restricting pesticides in places likely to be used by children (Clinic students researched and drafted opening brief for the county)

Spring Semester 2017

  • Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, 137 S. Ct. 1652 (2017) ─ whether ERISA plans maintained, but not established, by certain church affiliates are “church plans” and thus exempt from ERISA’s protections for retirees (Clinic wrote merits-stage amicus brief on behalf of the National Employment Lawyers Association)
  • Balbed v. Eden Park Guest House, 881 F.3d 285 (4th Cir. 2018) ─ concerning the circumstances under which employees who live and work on employers’ premises must be paid minimum wage and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage-and-hour laws (Clinic wrote opening and reply briefs)
  • Lyons v. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, 712 F. Appx. 287 (4th Cir. 2018) ─ concerning the scope of the exemption from coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act for employees who have used illegal drugs (Clinic wrote opening and reply briefs)
  • M.R. v. Ridley School District 868 F.3d 218 (3rd Cir. 2017) ─ whether and under what circumstances the parents of a child with a disability are entitled to an award of attorney fees under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Clinic wrote reply brief)
  • Oppositions to certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court ─ (1) Clinic students worked with Georgetown law professor Gary Peller drafting an opposition to certiorari addressing complex issues of bankruptcy law and due process arising out of General Motors’ “Great Recession” bankruptcy; and (2) Clinic students researched and drafted an opposition to certiorari in a Class Action Fairness Act case arising out of the Flint water crisis in collaboration with McAlpine P.C.

Illustrative cases from the Institute for Public Representation

  • Elgin v. Department of Treasury, 561 U.S. 1 (2012) ─ whether the Civil Service Reform Act precludes a federal district court from granting a federal employee equitable relief on a constitutional claim against that employee’s federal employer (Clinic handled both cert and merits stages)
  • U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen, 569 U.S. 88 (2013) ─ whether ERISA contract abrogates equitable common-fund doctrine (Clinic wrote brief for consumer-group amicus)
  • Knight v. Thompson, No. 13-955 (U.S. Supreme Court) ─ whether prisoners have a right under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act to resist state prison’s restrictive hair-grooming rules (Clinic wrote cert-stage amicus brief for national anti-discrimination and religious-liberty organizations)
  • Freeman v. Dal-Tile Corp., 750 F.3d 413 (4th Cir. 2014) ─ concerning the standard for imputation of liability to employer based on third-party sexual and racial harassment under Title VII (Clinic wrote appellate briefs and then mediated settlement)
  • McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393 (4th Cir. 2010) ─ whether plaintiffs had Article III standing to bring constitutional challenge to Virginia law limiting use of Virginia’s FOIA to Virginia citizens (Clinic handled this appeal as well as the trial litigation)