Appellate Litigation Clinic Litigates ACCA Issue in Light of Johnson

Two students in the Appellate Litigation Clinic, Christine Ball-Blakely and Andrew Fels, experienced an exciting victory over winter break. Under the supervision of Professor Lucy Jewel, Ball-Blakely and Fels were representing a client who, following burglary convictions, received a sentencing enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The reach of the ACCA has been dramatically impacted by the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States. To seek relief for their client, Ball-Blakely and Fels pursued a dogged investigation that led them to uncover decades- old state court documents that revealed that the client’s convictions grew out of theft from empty trailers. They persuaded the court to allow them to supplement the record with the documents and, ultimately, to grant a certificate of appealability. The client’s case is now docketed in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Ball-Blakely and Fels anticipate a favorable decision. Christine describes the case as an honor and privilege and for Andrew it has been the highlight of his law school career.