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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Law student finds federal gun-possession case to be kids’ stuff

How many law students dream of taking their place in the spotlight of a courtroom, and winning a tough case – or even overturning a prior decision? One student recently got that rare opportunity in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

To be fair, the student in question was no greenhorn. Meghan Poirier, 28, is a West Point graduate and now a captain in the U.S. Army who is about to begin training in the Judge Advocate General corps. She handled the appeal as part of an appellate clinic at Wake Forest University School of Law.

Her client, John D. Mooney, was charged as a felon in possession of a weapon, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years.

Poirier, a third-year law student, won a reversal of the conviction for a felon in possession of a firearm based on the defense the possession was justified.

Although all eight circuits to have considered the issue have allowed justification as a defense of felons found with guns, this is the first case in which the 4th Circuit has overturned a guilty plea and allowed a defendant to seek a trial based on the claim.

Presumably, the case will find a prominent place in Poirier’s resume.

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