April 3, 2012
Two stars of McGeorge's Mock Trial Competition Team got a taste of the real thing earlier last month and acquitted themselves admirably.
As Federal Defender Clinic students, Tony Danielson, '12, and Dan Taylor, '12, conducted a three-day (March 12-14, 2012) jury trial before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall Newman representing a man charged with theft of Social Security Administration benefits. Danielson was the chief attorney, handling voir dire and direct examination of their client. Taylor was the second chair and cross examined an expert witness.
Both worked under the supervision of Chief Assistant Federal Defender Linda Harter. The jury found the defendant guilty in the complicated misdemeanor case, and he faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Days earlier, Taylor got a chance to do something highly unusual for a law student. He argued a case before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in San Francisco that had evolved from the first year of the Federal Defender Clinic.
Back in 2009, David Wiksell, '10, and Katie Belisle, '10, worked with adjunct professor John Balazs, but were unsuccessful in a move to suppress evidence while defending a client charged with possession of marijuana. During the second year of the clinic, Tim Kelly, '11, and David Snapp, '11, handled the appeal in U.S. District Court with Balazs as their brief and advocacy supervisor.
Last month, Taylor, with Balazs' assistance, briefed and argued the appeal of that decision before the Ninth Circuit. Judges Connie Callahan, '75, Carlos Bea and Clifford Wallace comprised the three-judge panel. At the end, members of the bench commented on how well the case was briefed and argued.
Balazs, who served in the Federal Defender's Office in Sacramento for eight years, now is in private practice representing federal criminal clients at trial and on appeal. He has co-taught the Federal Defender seminar for the past two years, working with the chief assistant federal defender to supervise some cases.
Professor Cary Bricker oversees the McGeorge Federal Defender Clinic, which has become a highly sought elective in its short history. Danielson and Taylor are two of eight students currently enrolled in the year-long clinic.
In addition to prepping for his real trial, Danielson had to prepare for the championship round of the 37th Annual National Trial Competition, which was held March 22-24, 2012, in Austin, Texas. Michelle Trigger, '12, and Danielson, who had won a February regional, represented McGeorge in the 28-team championship won by Baylor University.