Appellate Advocacy

The PJC’s Appellate Advocacy Project seeks to influence the development of poverty and discrimination law before state and federal appellate courts. By concentrating skilled and experienced advocates on appellate strategies, the project serves as a critical resource for the private bar, legal services organizations, community organizations, and a national network of poverty and civil rights advocates. 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.

This past year, the Appellate Advocacy Project filed ten briefs in Maryland’s Court of Appeals, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court; presented oral argument on four cases; and received ten favorable decisions. The issues addressed affected:

  • Low-wage workers (discrimination, retaliation, whistleblower; wage and unemployment insurance claims)
  • Immigrants (right to an interpreter for limited English proficiency persons in quasi-judicial proceedings);
  • Consumers (restricting the application of mandatory arbitration agreements);
  • Prisoners (rights to obtain public information, basic safety, and to make their own medical decisions);
  • Low-income litigants (rights to attorneys’ fees); and
  • Home owners (defenses against foreclosure rescue scams).

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.