U.S. Supreme Court Denies Review of Case Handled by Utah Appellate Clinic

January 27, 2014 — The U.S. Supreme Court today denied review in Hoagland v. Ada County, a case handled by the Utah Appellate Clinic. In this matter,  the petitioner, Rita Hoagland, argued that negligence by Ada County led to the suicide of her son while he was detained in the Ada County Jail. The Idaho Supreme Court sided with Ada County and found no negligence. Ms. Hoagland, represented by the Stanford Supreme Court Clinic, subsequently filed a petition for review with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Utah Appellate Clinic opposed further review in the opposition. The Clinic’s opposition explained that the Idaho Supreme Court had properly applied a common law rule of abatement to abate Ms. Hoagland’s son’s claim against Ada County. The Clinic further explained that, “any question of the nuances regarding Idaho’s application of the common law is not sufficiently important to merit this Court’s attention.  Idaho simply follows the common law on this issue, while forty-eight states have substituted statutory approaches. Accordingly, any ruling by this Court would potentially affect only a small number of cases.”

Read/listen to Cassell’s oral arguments »

The Supreme Court agreed with the Clinic that the issues presented by the case were not sufficiently important to merit further review.  It denied Ms. Hoagland’s petition on its orders lists. Ada County was represented by Utah’s Clinic through Professor Paul Cassell, who served as counsel of record, along with Professors Andy Hessick and Michael Teter.  Also representing the County were Professor Richard Seamon of the University of Idaho College of Law; and Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Bower, who was joined by Jim Dickinson, Sherry Morgan, and Ray Chacko.

Noting that he was “extremely pleased” with the outcome, Bower said, “The success in this case is due to the cooperative effort between my office and Professor Paul Cassell, along with Professors Andy Hessick, Michael Teter and several law students. Professor Cassell and his team worked tirelessly in this case, and I appreciate their dedication. My clients are obviously pleased and impressed with this outcome.”

The Utah Appellate Clinic exists to provide College of Law students with an opportunity to work on pending cases as part of their legal education. Two students, Andrew Wake and Jeremy Christiansen, worked closely with the legal team during the preparation of the opposition brief.

Christiansen said, “The opportunity I had to help draft part of the brief in opposition was great. Being able to learn about that highly specialized practice area from experienced Supreme Court attorneys like Professor Cassell and Professor Hessick was an experience I won’t forget.”

Wake added, “This was a great opportunity to see the mechanics of the process for petitioning the Supreme Court for certiorari and opposing such a petition. The legal issues involved were interesting, but it was particularly interesting to see the attorneys think through some of the strategic questions regarding how to most effectively oppose the petition.”