Appellate Advocacy

The PJC’s Appellate Advocacy Project seeks to influence the development of civil rights and poverty law before state and federal appellate courts. By concentrating skilled and experienced advocates on appellate strategies, the project serves as a critical resource for legal services, local and national networks of poverty and civil rights advocates, and the private bar. We work to identify cases that have the potential for accomplishing systemic change of the legal and social systems that create or permit injustice for our clients. Appellate advocacy is a powerful catalyst for systemic change because appellate court decisions change the law itself.

Every year, the Appellate Advocacy Project  files briefs and receives decisions in numerous cases. Among many issues, Fellows have worked on cases arguing:

  • The right of parents in same-sex relationships who do not have a biological or adoptive relationship with their children to be considered their parents under the law.
  • Consumers' rights to meaningful recourse against illegal debt collection practices.
  • Federal law does not preempt state law that requires landlords' claims before approving an eviction 

The work of the Appellate Advocacy Project is greatly enhanced by the Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. Appellate Advocacy Fellowship, a living memorial to the late judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. An annual Fellowship is awarded to a lawyer who has served as a judicial clerk and is committed to working in public interest law. K'Shaani Smith is the 2017-2018 Murnaghan Fellow.
 

"My year as a Murnaghan Fellow taught me how advocacy can shape our world for the better. For that, I am forever grateful." 
          -Anthony May, 2016-2017 Murnaghan Fellow