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Notre Dame law students slated to argue before military appellate court

March 30, 2017

Two Notre Dame Law School students will get the opportunity to argue before an international appellate court when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces hosts oral arguments at the school next week.

The court, which has worldwide appellate jurisdiction over members of the armed forces on active duty and others subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, will hear arguments in the case of United States v. Edward Mitchell on April 4. Notre Dame 2L Sean Flynn will argue for the United States, the appellant, while 2L Dominic Barceleau will argue for Edward Mitchell, the appellee.

In the case, Mitchell, a sergeant in the Army, was charged before a general court-martial at Fort Hood, Texas, with numerous offenses involving the sexual assault and harassment of his ex-wife. Mitchell was ordered not to contact his ex-wife, but he continued to communicate with her through smartphone apps.

A military judge granted Mitchell’s motion to suppress the contents of his phone, which he had unlocked and handed over to an investigator. The case turns on issues of the Fifth Amendment’s self-incrimination clause and the Edwards Rule, which holds that police must stop interrogating a suspect after he invokes the Fifth Amendment right to counsel, as Mitchell did.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the U.S. Air Force have each filed amicus briefs in the case, as have Flynn, Barceleau and Notre Dame 3L Alyssa Hughes. Professors Jimmy Gurule, Marah McLeod and Stephen Smith will serve as the students’ supervising attorneys as they present oral arguments to the appellate court.

“It’s extremely valuable for our students to see courts in action – especially a court as prestigious as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces,” Robert L. Jones, clinical professor of law and associate dean for experiential programs, said in a statement. “It’s a chance to see how judges think and how lawyers present arguments to a high-level court. The chance to argue at a court of this level in a real case is very unusual.”

The oral arguments are open to the public and are scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. April 4 in the Patrick F. McCartan Courtroom in the Eck Hall of Law.

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