LAW 701A/B

Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy: Prisoners' Rights Clinic

In this intensive clinic, students will provide representation to previously pro se prisoners who have raised conditions of confinement and related issues in cases pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The clinic will provide an opportunity for students who may be interested in appellate litigation or who will be clerking on an appellate court to develop competency in appellate briefing and familiarity with the appellate process.  Through this work and the accompanying seminar, students will be exposed to some of the issues facing incarcerated people, some of the substantive law governing carceral institutions, and some of the obstacles prisoners face when seeking to vindicate their rights in court.  Chief among those obstacles is lack of access to counsel; hence, students’ casework will fill an important need. Over the course of the Fall semester, students will review the lower court record in their assigned cases, engage in legal research, and prepare multiple revisions of their opening briefs based on feedback from the instructors, class discussion, and case rounds.  Over the course of the Spring semester, students will prepare multiple revisions of their reply briefs based on feedback from the instructors, class discussion, and case rounds.  Students will work in two teams of two per case.  At least one student per team will be a third-year student eligible to argue the case at the Ninth Circuit. Throughout the course of their clinical work, students will communicate with their clients by writing and through telephone calls, consulting with them about the issues and arguments to be raised on appeal, and advising them of the progress of their cases.  Through these attorney-client relationships, students will have the opportunity to learn about their clients’ experiences of incarceration. Cases will be drawn from the Ninth Circuit’s pro bono program, with briefing schedules specially designed to permit law student participation over the course of two semesters: the clinic's opening briefs will be due in mid-November 2020, answering briefs in mid-January 2020, and the clinic’s reply briefs in mid-March 2021, with argument to be held during a May 2021 argument calendar. The clinic seminar will be taught and the casework supervised by Aaron Littman, a Binder Clinical Teaching Fellow at UCLA School of Law, Emily Cuatto of Horvitz & Levy LLP, and Caitlin Weisberg of  McLane, Bednarski & Litt LLP.  Mr. Littman is a prisoners’ rights litigator and advocate who has joined UCLA School of Law after serving as staff attorney in the impact litigation unit of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta.  He previously clerked on the Ninth Circuit, for Judge Stephen Reinhardt, as well as for Judge Myron Thompson in the Middle District of Alabama.  Horvitz & Levy is a leading appellate firm in Los Angeles, and Ms. Cuatto has significant experience litigating in the Ninth Circuit, the California, Oregon, and Nevada Supreme Courts, and the California Court of Appeal.  She clerked for the Hon. Milan D. Smith, Jr. of the Ninth Circuit, and did an externship with the Hon. Gary Klausner in the Central District of California.  MBL is a leading civil rights firm in Los Angeles, and Ms. Weisberg has significant experience litigating law enforcement and prisoners’ rights cases.  She is a member of the Amicus Committee of the National Police Accountability Project.  Prior to working at MBL, she clerked for Judge Jan Dubois in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and was editor-in-chief of the Stanford Law & Policy Review.  Other attorneys at Horvitz & Levy and MBL may also be involved in supervision and serve as guest lecturers.

See Full Course Details