From the 2009 News Archive
Month of Wins for Appellate and Post-Conviction Advocacy Clinic
The School of Law's
Appellate and Post-Conviction Advocacy Clinic,
under the direction of Assistant Professor of Law Renée Hutchins.
has recorded four significant victories within the past month. They include:
Maryland Court of Special Appeals - July 9, 2009
Student attorney Michelle Bradley played a key role in persuading the Court of Special Appeals to reverse the conviction of Lamont Whaley on charges of attempted armed robbery, attempted robbery, first degree assault, reckless endangerment and conspiracy. On appeal, the clinic argued that Whaley’s conviction should be overturned 1) because the hearing conducted to assess his transfer to the adult system conflicted with statutory mandates; 2) because the prosecutor improperly argued during closing that Lamont should be convicted to protect the immigrant community from crime; and 3) because the prosecutor improperly changed its theory of the case at the 11th hour.
In a reported decision, the Court of Special Appeals reversed Whaley's conviction on the basis of his first two appellate claims. The court reserved judgment on the third in light of the disposition.
"Michelle's advocacy was absolutely critical to this success," said Professor Hutchins. "She drafted two well-written appellate briefs, and presented one of the best appellate arguments I have seen a student present in my years of teaching."
Maryland Court of Appeals - June 12, 2009
Clinic staff attorney Emily Levenson, along with student Evan Cordes, also played a key role in securing a victory in the Maryland Court of Appeals in Maryland v. Damon Ramsey
. In a decision announced June 12, the Court reversed the client's conviction and remanded the case for a new trial based upon the Clinic's allegations of the appearance of egregious judicial bias.
Read the decision from the Maryland Court of Appeals.
"Evan helped to draft the principal brief that was filed in the Court of Special Appeals in December," said Prof. Hutchins. "The case was then pulled up to the Court of Appeals on the court's own motion. Though students are not allowed to argue in the Court of Appeals, he worked diligently on the reply brief and in preparation for oral argument. Emily was also invaluable in editing drafts of the briefs and mooting for argument."
Maryland Court of Special Appeals – July 1
Deron Webb was arrested in 2008 in a stolen van that contained two stolen motorcycles. Although the case involved no loss of life or injury to any person, and the stolen vehicles were all promptly returned to their owners, upon his conviction, Mr. Webb was sentenced to a total of thirty-two years in prison -- three consecutive ten year sentences for each of the stolen vehicles, plus two years for misdemeanor counts of fleeing and eluding, and reckless driving.
In April, Emily Levenson, Staff Attorney for the Appellate and Post-Conviction Advocacy Clinic, argued Mr. Webb's case before the Court of Special Appeals. The appellant's central argument was that Mr. Webb had been convicted of theft by possession (the record offered no proof that he actually took any of the stolen items), and therefore the single larceny doctrine precluded consecutive sentencing.
In a published opinion by Judge Arrie Davis, the Court of Special Appeals adopted in full the arguments advanced by appellant. Finding that Mr. Webb's actions constituted only one theft scheme, the court vacated Mr. Webb's sentence and remanded with instructions to resentence Mr. Webb on a single larceny count. In the coming months, Mr. Webb will be resentenced, and likely will receive a sentence of no more than ten years.
On July 1, the Clinic learned that the State will not seek certiorari
to the Court of Appeals in the case of Deron Webb v. State
, making final the Clinic's May 12, 2009 win in the Court of Special Appeals.
Read the Court’s decision.
Circuit Court of Charles County - June 25
David Williams was one of the first clients in the Appellate and Post-Conviction Advocacy (APCA) Clinic. The Clinic argued his direct appeal in 2005, and saw his case through direct appeal, cert, and collateral review. In October 2008, the Clinic took his case to a hearing on a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief and, in December, the Circuit Court for Charles County reversed Williams's convictions in their entirety.
"The State's Attorney's Office for Charles County immediately announced its intention to retry David. The Clinic spent the next several months both preparing for the retrial and attempting to convince the State to drop the charges in light of David's plausible claim of actual innocence," Prof. Hutchins.
On June 18, the State announced its decision to enter a nolle prosequi
"I would like to recognize the tremendous efforts of the students of the Appellate and Post-Conviction Advocacy Clinic that made the reversal of David's conviction and expungement of his record possible. Former and present students Julia Carolan, Jeff Fabian, Katherine Grubbs, Anthony Villa, Ian Friedman, Mona Haar, Jed Charner and Stephen Gottheim all participated meaningfully in David's representation," said Prof. Hutchins. "Emily Levenson, the staff attorney to the APCA Clinic, was also an absolutely essential part of the success. There is no question that the result would not be what it is without her hard work."
Posted by Jamie Smith on June 25, 2009