Professor Alison Siegler, who is the newest member of our legal clinic, is in charge of the Federal Criminal Justice Project. The FCJP is a terrific opportunity for students to gain experience practicing in federal courts while representing indigent defendants who have been charged with federal crimes. Two of our 3L students, Kristin Greer Love and James Burnham, recently filed an amicus brief in the Seventh Circuit dealing with the "fast track" sentencing disparity, a cutting-edge legal issue. Kristin, James, and two other 3Ls, Emma Mittelstaedt and Stephanie Holmes, also recently helped a draft a petition for a writ of certiorari on this issue, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve a current division among the Circuits over the correct answer. Both briefs were quoted on the “Sentencing Law & Policy” blog, the premier sentencing blog in the country and the first blog ever to be cited by the U.S. Supreme Court. Here is a copy of the amicus brief and here is a copy of the cert petition -- both with the students' names listed.
The students are very excited about having filed their first briefs and cert petition. As Professor Siegler explains, “My goal is for my students to get lots of practical experience working with clients and in federal court, and also to get them involved in the most contested legal issues of the day.” And as Kristin relates, this first year of the clinic has been very successful: “It is very exciting to both get direct litigation experience and to work on one of the most interesting and controversial issues in sentencing law today.” “We are spending more time practicing in federal court through the clinic than most law firm associates,” said Stephanie. Emma notes that “I have always been interested in criminal law, and the clinic provides an opportunity to make a real difference.” Finally, James adds: “The fast-track disparity is likely to end up before the Supreme Court soon, and our clinic may be lucky enough to take it there. We just filed our own fast-track appeal in the Seventh Circuit. If the Supreme Court doesn’t grant cert on the Eleventh Circuit case, there’s a chance they’ll take ours.” Congratulations Kristin, James, Stephanie, and Emma, and good luck with your cases!