Case Argued by Appellate Clinic Law Student Reversed by Indiana Supreme Court
On April 8, 2009, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed a conviction for resisting law enforcement in Jeffrey Graham v. State, a case argued before the court in December of last year by Jonathan Bont (3L). Bont ’s argument was part of his Appellate Clinic experience overseen by the clinic's founding Professor, Joel Schumm , '98. Mr. Graham was convicted of resisting law enforcement for not giving his hands to police officers who sought to handcuff him. The argument focused on the requirement of "forcibly" resisting. The court reiterated that “force” is required, and “refusing to present one’s arms for cuffing” was not sufficient. A webcast of the December argument and the text of the ruling are both available on the court's web site.
Stacy Uliana, ’97, an attorney at the Indiana Public Defender Council reacted to the oral argument that took place on December 11, 2008, saying, “Jon did an excellent job. He was just as articulate as the lawyers who appear before the court on a regular basis.”
Professor Schumm was also pleased. “The argument went very well,” said Professor Schumm. “Jon demonstrated his complete mastery of the record, case law, and policy concerns in addressing the Justices’ questions with the poise and clarity of a seasoned appellate advocate.” Schumm added, “ Jon’s hard work paid off in this win for our client and hopefully clarity of the legal standard in future cases.”
Bont, who is a member of the Order of Barristers and the Indiana Law Review, says that his experience arguing before the court was definitely the most memorable of his law school career and he recommends the experience to other students. After graduation in May 2009, Bont will clerk for Judge Larry J. McKinney, United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
Bont says the Appellate Clinic experience was "a terrific opportunity to develop legal research, analysis and advocacy skills in a venue that can have a lasting impact on Indiana law."