For Gonzaga Law student Anthony Martinez, learning by doing took on a whole new meaning on Tuesday, January 22. That morning, the 3L law student appeared in the Washington Temple of Justice to represent a client in front of the panel of supreme court justices.
Months spent preparing for appearance
In August of 2012, Martinez was approached with the idea of appearing in front of the Supreme Court by Steve Graham, who employs Martinez as a Rule 9 intern. Rule 9, in Washington state, allows law students to represent clients with the supervision of a bar association licensed lawyer. “At first I did not take him seriously… he made it clear his offer [was] genuine.” Martinez explains that “from that point I helped him draft a brief in support of our position and spent countless hours researching the issue, delving into the case law and developing our argument.”
Watch the WA State Supreme Court Arguments
A case of search and seizure
Martinez was appearing in the case of the State of Washington v. Michael Allen Clark. Clark, a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, was convicted of theft in the first degree. The theft occurred on fee land within the Colville Indian Reservation, so the State had jurisdiction to prosecute the crime. During the investigation, the State entered the Colville Reservation to execute a search warrant on Mr. Clark at Mr. Clark’s residence. The warrant the State used was obtained from the State, so the Tribe had no part in its issuance nor was the tribe even aware the State was about to execute it.
The supreme court agreed to review the case to determine if police improperly seized evidence from defendants’ residence due to a warrantless search.
A chance to make a big impact
Though the chance to appear in front of the Supreme Court is itself a big one, Martinez had other concerns on his mind as well. “Mr. Clark, and the Colville Confederated Tribes Amicus, represented by Brian Gruber, have a lot riding on the outcome of this argument. The ACLU also joined Mr. Clark as amicus and was represented by Gabe Galanda. So I was stepping into the ring with some very experienced attorneys. Needless to say I had a lot of people to impress and that was my primary concern. While it is obvious I wanted to appear competent in front of the panel, I also did not want Mr. Clark, Mr. Graham, Mr. Gruber, and Mr. Galanda to feel that this opportunity, to change the way the State operates within the reservation, was wasted.”
Taking a look at what is next
After taking the bar exam, Martinez intends to continue working in the offices of Steve Graham, where he will be employed as a criminal defense attorney. This experience in front of the Supreme Court, however, has given Martinez a new view of the work within the law that he hopes to do. ” I found that I enjoyed appellate work and so there are hopes to start handling more appeals. Perhaps one day I will be given an opportunity to work with The Innocence Project.”