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Students Argue Before Third Circuit on Behalf of Death-Row Inmate

Shannon Farley and Daniel Pereira

April 11, 2014

Not too many attorneys have argued cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, but 3Ls Shannon Farley and Daniel Pereira did just that on April 8.

The 3Ls argued that prison medical personnel violated a death row inmate’s constitutional rights by deliberately and indifferently denying him needed medical care.

Farley and Pereira are enrolled in the school’s Appellate Litigation Clinic, which took the case on behalf of the inmate, who suffers from systemic lupus.

Professor Richard Frankel, who directs the clinic, said the students did “a great job” arguing that an 18-month delay in treating the inmate’s condition represented cruel and unusual punishment, which is prohibited under the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. 

Making someone sit in agony for years doesn’t comport with fair punishment,” Pereira said. “The doctor in charge made some serious mistakes.” 

Farley admitted that she and Pereira were both nervous, but that the rapid-fire questions coming from the judges actually helped.

“The questions actually made it easier,” Farley said, joking that she might have otherwise gotten lost in thought as she stood in the courtroom.

Farley acknowledged that while the legal standard for prisoners is high, the pair vigorously pursued all viable arguments.

The students argued that the case – which was dismissed in U.S. District Court – should go before a jury.

Listen to Farley and Pereira’s arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.