The Environmental Law Clinic hit the ground running this quarter with advanced student Peter Broderick ‘13 arguing before the California Court of Appeals during the second week of class, in the majestic California Supreme Court courtroom in San Francisco. The case involves efforts by our client, Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, to protect the last best run of Central California Coast coho salmon in the Lagunitas watershed of Marin County. The coho is listed as endangered and federal officials have stated in the recovery plan for the species that the critical Lagunitas population is in an “extinction vortex.” The narrow issue up on appeal was one of first impression — whether SPAWN’s agreement to toll the 30-day statute of limitations on its claims that the County violated the California Environmental Quality Act was lawful. In arguing that such tolling agreements are proper, Peter was poised and polished before the bench, and on Friday afternoon, the court issued a quick decision in our favor. The court’s ruling, which was eagerly anticipated by a wide range of environmental organizations, local governments, and developers throughout California, allows our case to go forward to trial on the merits, where Peter will be arguing again shortly.
This quarter’s full time ELC students (Ben Brysacz ‘13, Caitlyn Chacon ‘13, Max Friedman ‘13, Jake Klonoski ‘13, Adrian LeCesne ‘13, Tom Pack, ‘12, Nick Parker ‘13, and Ingrid Price ‘13) jumped in enthusiastically to help Peter with his whirlwind preparations, acting as brief readers, moot court judges, case note generators, note takers, and general support network. This week’s victory also built heavily on prior efforts by clinic students Tori Ballif ‘12, who worked on the lower court briefs last spring and came back over the summer to argue the matter in the trial court, Khalial Withen ‘12, who briefed and argued intervention issues last winter, and Corinne Johnson ‘12, who helped draft the trial brief. It truly has been a team effort!