ESIA Graduate Wins U.S. Supreme Court Case

In the Supreme Court Plaza - Center: Laverone and members of his team. Far left: Dean of Emory Law, Robert Schapiro and Faculty Advisor Professor Sarah Shalf. Image courtesy of Emory Law. Photo: Rob Cannon

In the Supreme Court Plaza – Center: Laverone and members of his team. Far left: Dean of Emory Law, Robert Schapiro and Faculty Advisor Professor Sarah Shalf. Image courtesy of Emory Law. Photo: Rob Cannon

After graduating from GW, Louis Laverone, ESIA BA ‘10, knew that a career in law was in his future.  What he didn’t know is that he’d win a U.S. Supreme Court case soon after he finished law school.

Laverone attended Emory Law School and graduated in May 2013.

While at Emory, he was part of the The Emory Law School Supreme Court Advocacy Project (ELSSCAP), which he founded with five other members during his first semester in 2010.  The project is the only student-run Supreme Court Clinic in the country.

The group now has around three-dozen students and has handled 20 cases since its inception, including 11 this year.  This past year, Laverone served as ELSSCAP’s director.

During his fifth case for ELSSCAP, Bullock v. Bank Champaign, N.A., Laverone worked as a student leader of a five-person team, assisting faculty advisor Professor Sarah Shalf and attorney Thomas Byrne of Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan.

The case was an appeal from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the definition of “defalcation,” which refers to the taking of property held in trust by a trustee.

Debriefing in the East Conference Room. From left to right: Randall Bullock (client), Thomas M. Byrne (counsel of record), Laverone, and Professor Shalf. Image courtesy of Emory Law. Photo: Rob Cannon

Debriefing in the East Conference Room. From left to right: Randall Bullock (client), Thomas M. Byrne (counsel of record), Laverone, and Professor Shalf. Image courtesy of Emory Law. Photo: Rob Cannon

Laverone and his team took part in the drafting processes for both the certiorari- and merits-stage briefs, researching case law, preparing drafts and editing materials prepared by Mr. Byrne. The team also assisted with preparations for oral arguments in March.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Laverone’s client, agreeing with the clinic that “defalcation” requires “a culpable state of mind . . . involving knowledge of, or gross recklessness in respect to, the improper nature of the fiduciary behavior.” The court remanded Mr. Bullock’s case to the Eleventh Circuit to apply to the new rule.

This opinion was announced on Laverone’s graduation day from Emory.

How did Laverone hear about the decision? The dean of the law school mentioned it as Laverone processed to the commencement ceremony.

Laverone’s influence will live on at Emory; ELSSCAP continues to take on new cases under its new student leaders.

So, what comes after winning a Supreme Court case?

Laverone is currently sitting for the California Bar and intends to become a prosecutor.  He will also continue to train Emory students as a member of the Project’s new Board of Advisors.

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