The Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic handles complex public-interest appeals.  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 app.courts@georgetown.edu.)

Spring Semester 2021

  • Garrett v. Murphy (3rd Cir.) (pending) ─ concerning a range of issues under the Prison Litigation Reform Act’s “three strikes” provision (Clinic wrote opening brief)
  • Hamilton v. Dallas County Sheriff’s Department (5th Cir.) (pending) ─ concerning whether the Fifth Circuit should overturn the adverse-employment-action doctrine, which significantly narrows Congress’s ban on employment discrimination (Clinic wrote initial petition for hearing en banc)
  • Famous v. Fuchs (7th Cir.) (pending) ─ habeas petition raising ineffective assistance of counsel and statute-of-limitations issues and the circumstances under which a habeas petitioner has a right to a federal-court evidentiary hearing (Clinic wrote opening brief)
  • Townsend v. United States (D.C. Cir.) (pending) ─ concerning whether the D.C. Circuit should overturn the adverse-employment-action doctrine, which significantly narrows Congress’s ban on employment discrimination (Clinic wrote initial petition for hearing en banc)

Fall Semester 2020

  • Collier v. Dallas County Hospital District, No. 20-1004 (U.S. Supreme Court) (pending) ─ whether and in what circumstances workplace use of the n-word or similar odious racist epithets creates a hostile work environment and, therefore, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Clinic wrote Supreme Court petition for certiorari)
  • Threat, et al. v. City of Cleveland (6th Cir.) (pending) ─ concerning whether the City of Cleveland’s race-based system for assigning EMS supervisors violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related issues (Clinic wrote opening brief)
  • Sartori v. Schrodt (11th Cir.) (pending) ─ concerning the circumstances under which a person is authorized to access online electronic messages under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Stored Communications Act and related issues (Clinic wrote appellee’s principal brief)
  • Doe v. Barr, U.S. Attorney General (XX Cir.) (pending) ─ concerning the circumstances under which an immigrant seeking asylum may challenge a removal order entered in absentia before the Board of Immigration Appeals (Clinic wrote opening and reply briefs) (These briefs are non-public filings and cannot be posted here.)
  • Ziccarelli v. Dart and Cook County, Ill. (7th Cir.) (pending) ─ raising a range of important issues under the Family and Medical Leave Act (Clinic wrote opening brief and reply brief)

Spring Semester 2020

  • Kelly v. City of Alexandria, et al. (Kelly I), 2020 WL 7238416 (4th Cir. 2020) ─ 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 and reply brief)
  • C.W. v. Denver County School District (10th Cir.) 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 and reply-response cross-appeal brief)
  • Rad v. Attorney General of the U.S., ___ F.3d ___, 2020 WL 7485694 (3rd Cir. 2020) 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) (Watch Immersion Clinic Clinical Fellow Hannah Mullen’s oral argument before the Third Circuit)
  • Kelly v. City of Alexandria, et al. (Kelly II), 2020 WL 7238416 (4th Cir. 2020) ─ 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. 827 F. App’x 777 (9th Cir. 2020) ─ 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) (Watch Immersion Clinic Fellow Madeline Meth’s oral argument before the Ninth Circuit)

Fall Semester 2019

  • Real v. Perry, 810 F. App’x 776 (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, 815 F. App’x 586 (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, No. 18-1401 (U.S. Supreme Court) ─ 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, ___ F.3d ___, 2020 WL 7486307 (5th Cir. 2020) ─ concerning standards for pleading federal wage-and-hour and RICO 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)