Student Highlight: Students Argue before the Wyoming Supreme Court

Several times a year, students from the clinical programs at the University of Wyoming College of Law make an appearance before the highest court in the state, the Wyoming Supreme Court. In fact, students at Wyoming argue before the Court so often, that we sometimes forget what a big deal it actually is.  The chance to argue before the highest court in the state is an opportunity rarely afforded to law students in any other law school. The fact it is not only common, but a frequent occurrence in Wyoming, attests to the strength of our clinical education.

The pinnacle of the legal education at Wyoming is the clinical experience. The existing clinics have developed well-deserved reputations among the bench and bar in Wyoming. The dedication from students continue to build the strong profile of our programs, and set graduates from the College of Law apart as they embark on their legal careers.

Some of the most recent arguments have happened from students in the Defender Aid and Prosecution Assistance Clinics. We’d like to take a moment and recognize those student for their outstanding, work, preparation, and representation in the courtroom.

DSC_1782In December, Travis Wagman of the Prosecution Assistance Clinic represented the State of Wyoming before the Wyoming Supreme Court in a conviction appeal case involving aggravated assault and battery charges. Wagman won the argument and the Wyoming Supreme Court upheld the conviction (Wyoming Supreme Court Opinion). Travis is a third-year law student originally from Medina, Minn. He was drawn to the University of Wyoming because of the clinic education opportunities, and hopes to pursue a career as a city attorney or a prosecutor after graduation.

“Arguing before the Supreme Court was a fun experience,” he says. “I learned a lot, and it is going to be great having that on my resume because not a lot of students have the chance to do that.”

The Faculty Director of the Prosecution Assistance Program, Professor Darrell Jackson, was very pleased with Travis’ efforts.

“Travis went the extra mile by scheduling more moots than usual,” Jackson praised. “He made sure that he was as prepared as possible for any and every question the Wyoming Supreme Court justices could have raised. That demonstrated the type of commitment I expect to see from all our students.”

Following in suit, two students in the Defender Aid Clinic argued before the Court in January and February.

Third-year student Sam Forshner argued before the Wyoming Supreme Court January DSC_220012th over a direct appeal in a criminal case. Sam is a native of Englewood, Colo. He has participated in both Defender Aid and the International Human Rights Clinic. During his time in the Human Rights Clinic, he work on an Amicus Brief for marriage equality that was submitted before the United States Supreme Court. The Amicus Brief was produced in collaboration with Morrison and Foerster LLP partners Ruth Borenstein and Marc Hearron, and under the supervision of Professor Noah Novogrodsky.

“Arguing before the Supreme Court was a great experience,” Forshner comments. “It was really different from working on the Amicus Brief because arguing actually put me in the driver’s seat. A direct appeal is one of the toughest things you can do in a criminal case so now that I’ve done that, I feel like I can do a lot of things.”

DSC_2225Also arguing before the Wyoming Supreme Court on behalf of the Defender Aid Clinic was third-year law student Alan Davis. A native of Arvada, Colo., Davis argued before the Wyoming Supreme Court on February 18th, representing an appellate in a speedy trial claim.

After graduation, Davis will head to the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office and continue to put his skills into practice.  He believes that the experience has really set him apart.

“I am extremely grateful for having had this immense opportunity,” he says. “It has certainly boosted my confidence in terms of my oral advocacy skills, and I think that it will give me a competitive advantage my first day on the job.”

Defender Aid Faculty Supervisor Professor Diane Courselle, was extremely pleased with her students.

“The students did a wonderful job representing their clients,” says Courselle. “Defense work can be extremely challenging and both Sam and Alan did a great job preparing for their oral arguments, and an outstanding job for their clients.”

The final student to go before the Supreme Court this semester will be David Maris. Maris DSC_2208will represent the State of Wyoming through the Prosecution Assistance Program, making his argument three days after graduation. Maris, also a third-year law student, came to Wyoming from Cleveland, Ohio. In addition to his time in the Prosecution Assistance Program, Maris also serves as a Student Editor on the Wyoming Law Review Editorial Board.

The College of Law commends these students on a job well done!