The School of Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic had a history-making year when it argued – and won – its first case before the Georgia Supreme Court.

Appellate Litigation Clinic students

Third-year students John Lex Kenerly (left) and Addison Smith were the first law students in state history to present oral argument before the Georgia Supreme Court.

Third-year student John Lex Kenerly IV prepared and presented oral argument in Edward Williams v. DeKalb County et al, a case challenging the DeKalb County commissioners’ vote to give themselves a 60% pay raise.  Third-year student Addison Smith assisted with the case.

The clinic learned that the state’s highest court agreed with Kenerly and Smith in March, finding that the commissioners could be held liable under the Open Meetings Act and that the trial court needed to resolve a fact question over whether the county CEO could be enjoined from carrying out the pay raise.

In addition to Kenerly and Smith, second-year students Taylor S. Bussey, Alexander S. Cumming, Steven L. Miller, Devin M. Sinclair, Anre D. Washington and Amelia K. Welch assisted with case research last summer.

The Georgia Supreme Court adopted a rule in 2019 that allowed the Appellate Litigation Clinic to represent Williams. Kenerly was the first law student ever to present argument to the court.

“I’m proud of the students, and I’m thankful to the court,” said Appellate Litigation Clinic Director Thomas V. Burch said. “This was an educational, unique experience for all of us and the students did a great job.”

Other Appellate Litigation Clinic news

As well as appearing before the Georgia Supreme Court, in April, Smith virtually represented a client in bond proceedings before the Stewart Immigration Court. He asked for the clinic’s client to be given bond or parole due in part to underlying medical conditions that make him more susceptible to COVID-19. Third-year student Spencer D. Woody assisted with the case.

Woody also argued a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit during the academic year. He presented oral argument in United States v. Greg Bane, a case involving criminal forfeiture, retroactivity and the writ of coram nobis. Of note, law school alumna Lennon Haas (J.D.’12) presented in the same case on behalf of Greg Bane’s father, Ben Bane.

Additionally, third-year student Joseph R. Scarborough argued the case Oviedo v. WMATA before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in September. Third-year student Jonathan Kaufman helped prepare the argument.