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Barnhart argues in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

The case belonged to WVU Law's U.S. Supreme Court Law Clinic.

Kylie Barnhart graduates from WVU Law on May 12, yet one of the biggest days of her law school career already happened. 

WVU Law student Kylie Barnhart Class of 2017

Earlier this semester, Barnhart argued a case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia.

She was chosen to deliver the oral argument (MP3 audio) on behalf of Anthony Martin, a client of WVU Law’s United States Supreme Court Law Clinic.

Martin, who is incarcerated, brought First Amendment retaliation, equal protection and due process claims against an official in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (Anthony Martin v. Susan Duffy, Docket Number 16-6132).

Martin claims he was placed in segregated housing in retaliation for filing a grievance against prison staff. When the case dismissed in District Court, Martin appealed to the Fourth Circuit.

When the higher court appointed the case to the Supreme Court law clinic, Barnhart was selected for the oral argument based on her performance in an in-house moot court audition.

While it was Barnhart who argued the case in court, all of the students in the Supreme Court law clinic worked together on research and drafting briefs leading up to the hearing.

“This process was a collaborative effort. The entire clinic worked on this case and helped me with the argument, and I think that’s critical as an attorney, seeing that you have to rely on others and work together,” Barnhart said. “I think it’s incredibly important in the legal profession to be able to work in a team.”

Clinic director Lawrence D. Rosenberg, law professor Anne Marie Lofaso, and other WVU Law faculty helped Barnhart refine her oral advocacy skills.

Rosenberg is a partner at the firm Jones Day, and Lofaso is the Arthur B. Hodges Professor of Law. They are co-founders of WVU’s U.S. Supreme Court Law Clinic, which is one of just a handful in the country.

Barnhart argued Martin’s case on March 21, receiving positive feedback from the bench.

“It was an incredible experience, and I feel honored to have been selected to do it. Even though I was nervous, I felt I was going into it well-prepared. I had a lot of help from people who were much more experienced than I am, and it made all the difference,” said Barnhart. “I wasn’t always sure that I wanted to do litigation and present myself in court, but this gave me reassurance that I can do this and be successful. I am glad I had this opportunity to discover that about myself.”

While at WVU Law, Barnhart was the Senior Editor of the Year for Volume 119 of the West Virginia Law Review. She was also a member of Public Interest Advocates and the Community Service Council.

After graduation, Barnhart will work in the litigation department for Steptoe and Johnson PLLC in Bridgeport, West Virginia, office.

Barnhart is from Wadestown, West Virginia. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from WVU in 2014. 


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