WVU law student Kylie Barnhart delivers oral argument before U.S. court of appeals

By Zachary Lewis | Jun 6, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. – A West Virginia University law school student and Wadestown native had one of the biggest opportunities of her burgeoning career delivering an oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

RICHMOND, Va. – A West Virginia University law school student and Wadestown native had one of the biggest opportunities of her burgeoning career delivering an oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

Kylie Barnhart was selected from her class to represent plaintiff Anthony Martin in Martin v. Duffy, an appeal involving alleged violations of the plaintiff’s civil rights. Barnhart argued on his behalf on March 21.

Martin, an incarcerated inmate, filed complaints for First Amendment retaliation, equal protection, and due process against Capt. Susan Duffy of the South Carolina Department of Corrections. According to his claims, Martin was moved to segregated housing after filing a grievance against some of the prison staff. The case was presented in district court and dismissed.  

When he submitted an appeal, the WVU Law’s United States Supreme Court Law Clinic was appointed as counsel. And after a series of moot court sessions among her class, Barnhart won the right to represent him.  


Kylie Barnhart   https://www.law.wvu.edu/news/2017/05/08/barnhart-argues-in-us-fourth-circuit

“As part of our Supreme Court clinic, the class participated in moot courts (practice oral arguments) for the cases we were working on. We did these arguments to practice our oral advocacy skills,” said Barnhart in an email to The West Virginia Record.

“We did a moot court for the Martin v. Duffy case to determine who would argue the case before the 4th Circuit. The professors, who acted as judges, selected three students to proceed to another round of moot courts. I was selected from these three students after our second moot court on the case.”

Describing how she felt during the argument, Barnhart confessed she had a bout of anxiety when she went before the court. But she was able to keep her composure thanks to proper preparation and mentorship from her professors.

“During the proceedings, I was initially nervous. However, once the judges started asking questions, I became less nervous and more focused on advocating for our client – the reason we were there. The clinic professors, Professor (Lawrence) Rosenberg and Dr. (Anne) Lofaso, conducted numerous moot courts with me to prepare me for the argument and potential questions the judges would ask,” said Barnhart.

“This definitely helped with my nervousness, because they prepared me for what the experience would be like. It was intimidating to stand before those judges for the first time, but after the argument the judges came down from the bench, shook my hand, and made me feel proud of my argument,” she continued.

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