A Gonzaga law student learned firsthand Wednesday how difficult it can be to stand before a panel of justices who couldn’t care less about the brief she wrote and only wanted her to explain the creases within the law.
Cherlyn Walden, a third-year student at Gonzaga University School of Law, provided oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which is the highest court to hear legal appeals originating from cases involving military members. Only the U.S. Supreme Court is authorized to reconsider its rulings.
The court travels to four venues a year as part of an outreach program to involve law students, and the justices picked Gonzaga to hear the case of Airman Brandon T. Rose, who pleaded guilty to attempted larceny, violation of a lawful order, drunk driving, forgery, house breaking, larceny and three counts of indecent assault.
At issue was Rose’s guilty plea for the sexual assaults. His attorney argued that Rose had ineffective counsel because his previous attorney did not provide any substantive answers when Rose asked several times whether he would have to register as a sex offender as part of the plea.
Walden, who filed an amicus brief with fellow third-year law student Danielle Purcell, stood before the judges and did her best to calmly discuss the law.
But the justices started almost immediately grilling Walden about the law surrounding the case.
“What are you asking us to do? Is having to register as a sex offender the same as (deportation)?” Justice Margaret Ryan asked Walden.
“Had Rose known about the sex offender registry … he would not have pleaded guilty,” Walden responded later.
After the legal arguments were over, the justices welcomed questions from the students, as long as they weren’t about the Rose case.
Chief Justice James Baker told the students that if they wanted to change the world, they shouldn’t become appellate judges. “We have to wait for everything to come to us,” he said.