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Mills Legal Clinic of Stanford Law School
Mills Legal Clinic of Stanford Law School

Great News for Supreme Court Litigation Clinic

Supreme Court Litigation Clinic students, faculty and staff received great results earlier this week — both denials of certiorari in which the clinic successfully persuaded the Court to leave its clients’ lower court victories intact.

In the first case, Applebee’s International v. Fast, the clinic represented a class of employees who sued the restaurant chain for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage requirements.  After the Eighth Circuit allowed the case to proceed on the ground that Applebee’s had impermissibly taken a “tip credit” for certain hours the employees performed non-tip-generating work, Applebee’s petitioned for certiorari, supported by amicus briefs from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association and other organizations.  The clinic then came into the case and successfully opposed certiorari.  The student team was composed of Sam Dolinger (’13), Denise Drake (’13), Dan Galindo (’12), and Amy Burns (’12).  Instructors Tom Goldstein and Kevin Russell directly supervised the work, and Joanne Newman provided excellent support.

In the second case, Alvis v. Espinoza, the clinic represented family members of a man whom police officers shot and killed after illegally entering an apartment in which he was staying.  After the Ninth Circuit allowed the family members’ civil rights case to proceed, rejecting the officers’ claims of qualified immunity, the officers sought certiorari, supported by several law enforcement organizations.  Once again, the clinic then came into the case and successfully opposed certiorari.  The student team was composed of William Johnston (’12), Teddy Kider (’12), and Kathryn McCann (’12).   Tom Goldstein directly supervised the work, and Joanne Newman provided excellent support.

Although the clinic typically receives more attention for winning cases on the merits, these cases illustrate another way that the clinic often achieves success: keeping its clients  out of the Court.  (Indeed, last year, after the clinic obtained another denial of certiorari for a plaintiff in a case involving the Fair Credit Reporting Act, her attorney settled the case and made a donation to the clinic.)  It should go without saying that both kinds of victories are extraordinarily rewarding.

Congratulations to all.

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