Appellate Clinic and Pro Bono Initiative Students Help in Successful Criminal Appeal

by Anneliese Booher

The Utah Court of Appeals has reversed the murder conviction of Billy Charles, a Utah man accused of killing his girlfriend in 1996.  University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law students participating in the College of Law’s Appellate Clinic and Pro Bono Initiative helped to prepare Charles’ successful appellate briefing, under the guidance of appellate counsel Troy Booher, Clinical Associate Professor of Law.  Milda Shibonis, now a third year law student, participated in the Appellate Clinic following her first year of law school.  She helped to review the record and trial transcripts and analyze the facts to emphasize on appeal. Ian Atzet, a 2011 graduate, conducted research on jury instructions on the use of jailhouse informant testimony—testimony that had helped to convict Mr. Charles at trial.

Atzet said he got involved in the case because “it was something beyond the hypothetical world of law school classes, and because it was an opportunity to help someone who seemed to need help. I learned a lot.” Shibonis explained that she derived a lot of satisfaction working on the case, because she helped to make a difference in a case about which she personally cared.   

To read the State v. Charles opinion, click here.

To read the Deseret News article, click here.   

To read the Salt Lake Tribune article, click here