University of Mississippi students handle criminal appeals

October 14, 2002

Two students from the University of Mississippi School of Law are representing indigent criminal defendants in their appeals.

The Criminal Appeals Clinic, the only one of its kind in the state, is a part of the National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law at the University of Mississippi. Only a handful of law schools across the nation offer similar programs.

Phillip W. Broadhead, clinical professor and director of the criminal appeals program, said he hopes to establish a model that can be followed by other law schools.

Broadhead said, "We are developing an initiative to train lawyers on effective criminal appellate practice. Our goal is to provide training to law students and lawyers, and to create a model program for law schools."

The Criminal Appeals Clinic, which began this fall, is open to third-year law students. Students Carl Gordon and Sarah Gardner are each handling one appeal this semester. Broadhead said he would like to have six students for the semester which begins in January, and a dozen students during the fall 2003 semester.

The students are handling appeals in a drug sale case and a rape case, Broadhead said.

The students familiarize themselves with the trial court record, develop issues for appeal and write briefs to be filed in the Mississippi Supreme Court.

As third-year law students, Gardner and Gordon are not yet licensed to practice law.

"Under my supervision, they are admitted to limited practice under state statute and are appointed as special counsel for the appellants by the Supreme Court," said Broadhead, who is a former Hinds County Assistant Public Defender.

Broadhead is seeking potential clients for the next class, which will begin in January. He seeks indigent defendants who have criminal convictions in state court awaiting direct appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court. The program does not handle second and successive appeals.

Broadhead may be reached at 662-915-5560 or by writing to him at P.O. Box 1848, University, MS 38677.