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Clinic students prep for, attend oral arguments in D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

Emory University School of Law |
TELC students in DC
Front row (left to right): Allison Gleditsch 17L, Jake Harris 17L, Stephanie Cook 17L, Andrew Tate 16L Back row (left to right): Catherine Klein 17L, Samantha Skolnick 17L, Laura Snider 17L, Blake Meadows 17L, Kate Lee (TELC fellow)

Turner Environmental Law Clinic students recently attended oral arguments in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals concerning a challenge to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) regulation governing nuclear waste storage. The Clinic, together with its co-counsel Geoffrey Fettus (Natural Resources Defense Council) and Diane Curran (Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg) represent nine environmental organizations challenging the regulation.

In early February, the students (and several litigators from around Atlanta) conducted two moot court sessions to help prepare co-counsel Geoff Fettus for oral argument. Diane Curran also flew in from Washington, D.C., to participate in the preparations at Emory Law. A few weeks later, the students sat in the courtroom to witness their hard work in action.

Samantha Skolnick 17L was enthralled by the process. “This was truly one of the most exciting experiences I have had in law school. The preparation for the moot court was really interesting because I was able to formulate questions to distribute to our mock judges so we could mirror a ‘hot bench’ and try to make the session as close to the real thing as possible. I really felt like all of the clinic members had such an impact in helping to structure the argument or prepare Geoff for counter-arguments or points of clarification.”

She added, “On the day of the actual argument, all of us were sitting in the back of the courtroom and we were nervous but very excited. It was one of those days where I truly felt like I picked the right profession. I was sitting in a courtroom with portraits of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the wall, hearing an argument by an attorney I knew, and listening to a case that I had become so knowledgeable and passionate about. I am so grateful to Professor Goldstein for allowing me to be a part of such a hands-on legal learning experience.”

The circuit court case involves nine environmental organizations, four states, and an Indian tribe (petitioners) vs. NRC and asks whether NRC’s nuclear waste storage regulation and its supporting environmental impact statement violate the National Environmental Policy Act.

The court will issue a decision within the next year.