Fordham Law

Students in Federal Litigation Clinic Win Settlement for Vulnerable Client

January 28, 2013

Four students in Fordham Law’s Federal Litigation Clinic won a settlement for a client during a three-day excessive police force case in the Southern District of New York. Jordan Franklin ’13, Leo Gabovich ’13, Stephen Klein ’13, David Mou ’13, under the supervision of Professor Michael W. Martin, built and successfully prosecuted the case in under two months. The client, a homeless, psychologically disabled man, had pursued the case without legal representation for three years. After accepting the case, the students as trial counsel performed virtually every function of client representation, including uncovering essential evidence, filing requests for records, retaining expert witnesses, and subpoenaing physicians who had treated the client.
Jordan Franklin '13 with Kristen McIntosh '12 outside the courtroom of Judge Cathy Seibel '85.

“Throughout all phases of this case, the students acted with the utmost professionalism and care,” said Martin. “They did an extraordinary service for a client in desperate need of legal assistance. We here at Fordham Law are extremely proud of their dedicated efforts.”

From November 5–9, the students presented evidence at the federal courthouse before a nine-member jury and the presiding judge, Fordham Law alumna Cathy Seibel ’85. After the client testified, the defense called to the stand all four defendants—the police officers involved in the arrest of the client. On multiple occasions, the students employed proper trial procedure to impeach the officers with prior statements, using affidavits, police documentation, and depositions from other cases to contradict the officers’ testimony. The team also strategically limited their objections when one witness offered his ultimately inadmissible opinion that the defendants did not use excessive force.

Following the defense’s closing argument, the city contacted the mayor and nearly doubled its previous settlement offer. The client accepted the enhanced settlement after discussion with the students.

“It is immensely rewarding to have had this type of practical lawyering experience produce such an outstanding outcome for our client,” said Franklin. "Our team worked diligently on this case, and we couldn’t be more satisfied to have achieved this result during our final fall semester at Fordham Law.”