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Alumnae to Urge U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to Grant Convicted Murderer a Hearing

'16 alumnae Emily Derstine Friesen and Kate Mahoney

September 21, 2016

Emily Derstine Friesen and Kate Mahoney, both ’16, will on Sept. 22 argue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on behalf of a man who may have been wrongly convicted of a 2003 murder in North Philadelphia.

The arguments are the culmination of work the alumnae began when they were students in the Appellate Litigation Clinic.

The pair will ask the court to grant a hearing to Jerry Frazier, who was convicted of first-degree murder in 2004, despite the testimony of two witnesses who did not identify him as the gunman.  

Frazier’s defense attorney failed to call a third witness who also would have testified that Frazier was not the assailant, said Professor Richard Frankel, director of the clinic.

Derstine Friesen and Mahoney will argue that Frazier’s constitutional right to effective counsel was violated, Frankel explained.

Previously, “his case has been dismissed without any evidence being entered to see if he was denied the right to counsel,” Frankel said.  “He should be allowed to have a hearing.”

The alumnae are deeply invested in the case, which they worked on throughout their final year of law school.

“They’ve worked incredibly hard on this case, and they’ve continued to work on it, even after they’ve graduated,” Frankel said.  “They really think this is a case where they got the wrong man.”