Supreme Court Clinic

Supreme CourtIn UCLA’s Supreme Court Clinic, students and faculty work together on real cases before the United States Supreme Court.

If you are an attorney who would like our assistance with any aspect of Supreme Court practice, please contact the clinic director, Professor Stuart Banner.

Current Cases

Nelson v. Colorado, 15-1256, cert. granted Sept. 29, oral argument Jan. 9

Colorado, like many states, imposes various monetary penalties on people convicted of crimes, but when a conviction is reversed, Colorado requires defendants to prove their innocence to get their money back. On behalf of clinic clients Shannon Nelson and Louis Madden, we argue that this requirement is inconsistent with due process. We are collaborating on this case with Suzan Almony and Ned Jaeckle, who represented Nelson and Madden in the lower courts, and with Fred Rowley and Dan Levin at Munger Tolles & Olson.

Merits brief
Merits reply brief
Certiorari petition
Certiorari reply


Lee v. Tam, 15-1293, cert. granted Sept. 29, oral argument Jan. 18

The Lanham Act prohibits the registration of a trademark that “may disparage” persons or institutions. On behalf of clinic client Simon Tam, the leader of a Portland-based band called The Slants, we argue that this provision is contrary to the First Amendment. We are collaborating on this case with John Connell, Ronald Coleman, and their colleagues at Archer & Greiner, who represented Tam in the lower courts.

Merits brief
Certiorari-stage brief for respondent


Murr v. Wisconsin, 15-214

St. Croix County, Wisconsin, allows the development of a substandard lot only if the lot is in separate ownership from adjacent lots. In this Takings Clause case, we filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Association of Counties et al., in which we demonstrate that such “merger” provisions have been so common for so long that they could not surprise any well-advised landowner. We are collaborating on this case with Lisa Soronen of the State and Local Legal Center.

Brief of Amici Curiae National Association of Counties et al.


Weaver v. Massachusetts, 16-240

We filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, in which we argue that the Sixth Amendment right to a public trial should not be inadvertently forfeited when defense counsel incompetently fails to object to a courtroom closure. Rather, the right to a public trial should be among the rights that can be given up only by a knowing and intelligent waiver. We are collaborating on this case with David Porter at the NACDL.

Brief of Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers


Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, 16-349

The Court will decide whether a company that purchases defaulted debts and then attempts to collect them is a “debt collector” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. We filed an amicus brief on behalf of Public Counsel, in which we argue that if the FDCPA does not prevent deceptive practices by debt purchasers, those practices will flourish, because state law is inadequate to protect consumers. We are collaborating on this case with Anne Richardson and Charles Evans at Public Counsel.

Brief of Amicus Curiae Public Counsel


Murphy v. Smith, 16-1067

When a prisoner obtains a monetary judgment in a section 1983 suit and the prisoner’s lawyer is awarded attorney’s fees, the Prison Litigation Reform Act requires that a portion of the judgment “not to exceed 25 percent” go toward the fees. In a certiorari petition we filed on behalf of former prisoner Charles Murphy, we argue that the Seventh Circuit erroneously requires prisoners to pay the full 25 percent in every case. We are collaborating on this case with Fabian Rosati, who represented Murphy in the lower courts.

Certiorari petition

Recent Cases

Heffernan v. City of Paterson, 136 S. Ct. 1412 (2016)

Merits brief
Merits reply brief
Certiorari petition
Certiorari reply


Torres v. Lynch, 136 S. Ct. 1619 (2016)

Merits brief
Merits reply brief
Certiorari petition
Certiorari reply


Betterman v. Montana, 136 S. Ct. 1609 (2016)

Merits brief
Merits reply brief
Certiorari petition
Certiorari reply


Utah v. Strieff, 136 S. Ct. 2056 (2016)

Merits brief
Brief in opposition