Students Argue Case Before Washington State Supreme Court

Taiyyeba Safri and Suzanne LoveIn March, third-year students Suzanne Love and Taiyyeba Safri argued their first case in front of a judge. Actually, they argued in front of nine judges.

The two women, both members of the Innocence Project Northwest clinic, argued a case involving a change in the accomplice liability law in Washington state. The two represented petitioner Bob Kaseweter, a client of the Innocence Project Northwest. Love and Safri argued as Rule 9 interns under supervision of Jackie McMurtrie, assistant professor at the law school and director of the Innocence Project Northwest. They shared their time with Suzanne Elliott, attorney for a co-petitioner.

Despite admitted nerves, both students handled their appearance and answered questions from the justices with composure.

“I was happy to get a hot panel,” said Love, the current Student Bar Association president. “I enjoyed receiving questions and engaging with the justices. I hope I was able to explain why ruling in favor of our client is not only founded in the law, but is also the right thing to do.”

IPNW members
(L to R) Back: Suzanne Elliott, Jackie McMurtrie, David Koch. Front: Hillary House, Suzanne Love, Taiyyeba Safri, Steven Lewis ('04).

A hot panel she got. Throughout her time in front of the justices she fielded multiple questions—on topics ranging from retroactivity, to the source of lower court confusion about the scope of accomplice liability, to erroneous Washington pattern criminal jury instructions and much more—from multiple judges. Safri also handled numerous questions from the court.

Prior to the court’s recess, Chief Justice Gerry Alexander (’64) commended the students on their performance.

“Before we adjourn I’m sure Ms. Elliott and Mr. Duffy, who are veteran appellate attorneys, won’t mind if I express my compliments to the two Rule 9 interns who have argued today,” Alexander said. “I thought you presented your arguments in a very professional way. Your arguments were understandable, and we look forward to seeing you argue cases in the not-too-distant future, after you have been admitted to the bar.”

Though several Rule 9 interns have argued before the court, for his part Alexander can only recall one other time when an actual student has done so.