Duquesne University School of Law

Federal Litigation Clinic argues case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Today students in Duquesne Law’s Federal Litigation Clinic argued a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Third-year law students Mark Adams, Casey Rankin, Adam Tragone, Chloe Zidian and Chris Zozula took on all aspects of the appellate case on behalf of an indigent inmate. Rankin and Zidian argued remotely before a panel of three Third Circuit judges based in Philadelphia.

Prof. Laurie Serafino, director of clinical legal education, and supervising attorneys Adrian Roe and Sam Simon directed the students’ work.

“We are certainly proud of Casey and Chloe and all of our students in the Federal Litigation Clinic,” Serafino said. “They devoted countless hours to the case and impressed the supervising lawyers with a high level of professionalism and dedication to justice. At the end of the argument, the panel thanked the students for their excellent work.” 

The case involved an inmate who had appealed his convictions seeking habeas relief on the grounds that his trial counsel was ineffective. The students argued that the client’s original attorney failed to present evidence that could have led a fact-finder to doubt the Commonwealth’s case against the defendant.

The case was the second the Federal Litigation Clinic students handled this year.

In the first case, before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the clinic represented a death-row inmate in a retaliation action against a correctional officer. The law students took depositions, initiated discovery, filed motions with the court, and attended a mandatory settlement conference with court staff and opposing counsel. The case settled for an undisclosed amount days before a scheduled jury trial. 

“The Federal Litigation Clinic is the only one of its kind in the region where students get this level of experience in federal court," Serafino said. 

Duquesne Law provides legal services to people who need, but cannot afford, legal representation. Law students work in clinics, programs, externship placements and pro bono positions under the supervision of licensed attorneys to serve veterans and income-qualified individuals and families. The students provide an important service to the public while gaining hands-on experience during their second and third years of legal studies. 

Learn More

Learn about clinical legal education at Duquesne Law. 

Faculty Referenced In Article

Laurie B. Serafino, J.D.Director of Clinical Legal Education and Associate Clinical Professor