College of Law

UT Law students achieve victory in US Court of Appeals case

Posted July 7, 2016

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled in favor of a client recently represented by students of the University of Tennessee College of Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic.

The case, Yaqob Thomas v. Joseph Meko, was argued by William “Trey” Neal (’16) in March, when he and several other students, under the guidance of professor Lucy Jewel and adjunct professor Wade Davies, traveled to Cincinnati to present their arguments before the court. Neal argued a habeas corpus issue before judges Raymond Kethledge, Jane Roth, and Bernice Donald, exploring whether their client’s post-conviction motion, filed in Kentucky, was properly filed to toll the statute of limitations under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

In an opinion issued today, the court ruled in their client’s favor, reversing and remanding the lower court decision. The Sixth Circuit agreed with the position Neal and fellow student attorney Sara Ohlman (’16) argued in their briefs and in oral argument: that their client’s previous habeas corpus petition was “properly filed” under Kentucky state law. Accordingly, their client was entitled to have his federal habeas corpus petition heard. The lower court’s decision not to hear his federal petition was reversed.  

“Hearing the gratitude in our client’s voice when we told him the news was an emotional moment that greatly emphasized the positive outcome we were able to achieve. It was wonderful to see how the court’s  decision was so heavily influenced by the excellent points we made in our briefs and in oral argument,” said Jewel. “I am so proud of Sara and Trey’s tireless work. This is just one example of how the Legal Clinic empowers students to be lawyers, to impact the law, and to produce just outcomes for underserved citizens who would normally not receive quality representation.”

The Appellate Litigation Clinic continues to wait for a decision on a different case also argued in March.