OXFORD, Miss. – In 2013, a Mississippi man was convicted of drug possession, but the Mississippi Court of Appeals reversed and rendered that conviction three years later. After a nearly five-year delay in bringing the defendant to trial on another pending indictment, a Harrison County judge ruled the second case could proceed to trial, despite the defense claiming a Speedy Trial Act violation.
Two students in the University of Mississippi School of Law helped the appellant fight this decision through an oral argument before the Mississippi Court of Appeals.
Third-year law students Reid Posey and Brittney Eakins are participants in the law school’s Criminal Appeals Clinic, which offers practical experience in criminal law and procedure. Posey and Eakins delivered their oral argument in May v. State to the court at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 13).
“It is such an honor and a privilege to argue before the Court of Appeals on behalf of our client,” Eakins, from Kiln, Mississippi, said. “This is by far one of the best opportunities that I’ve had as a law student, and I am so grateful to our clinical program for giving students the chance to learn and grow as future attorneys, while directly impacting our clients’ lives in a meaningful way.”
The School of Law has 11 in-house clinical programs, including the Criminal Appeals Clinic, that allow students to represent underserved clients in real cases to gain real-world, practical experience.
“I’m extremely excited and grateful for this opportunity,” Posey, a West Point, Mississippi native, said. “The Criminal Appeals Clinic at Ole Miss law is a perfect example of the kinds of opportunities this law school provides its students to gain invaluable practical experience before starting their legal careers.”
This is the 35th oral argument the clinic’s students have delivered since 2002, and it will be broadcast live on the court’s website. Phillip Broadhead, director of the clinic and a clinical professor of law, and his students have successfully argued reversals of 18 cases since 2004.
“The goal of the Criminal Appeals Clinic has always been to provide third-year students with a real-life experience in our state appellate courts that they can carry with them into law practice after graduation,” Broadhead said. “This professional program allows students to collaborate and focus on problem-solving, making their transition from law student to lawyer a much faster and smoother one.”
Earlier this month, Criminal Appeals Clinic students observed oral arguments before the Mississippi Supreme Court in Jackson and toured the court’s facility as part of efforts to continually expose students interested in criminal law to court procedure.
The clinic provides classroom instruction including review of trial documents, exhibits and transcripts; evaluation of legal arguments; and the method of writing briefs. Its students also are admitted to limited practice, which enables them to sign on briefs as special counsel of record and appear in oral arguments before the court.
For more information about the Criminal Appeals Clinic and other clinical programs, go to https://law.olemiss.edu/academics-programs/clinics/.