Student argues before Court of Appeals

October 15, 2012

Will Witherspoon, a fourth-year student at Seattle University School of Law, argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging policies at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island that require residents to be strip searched and shackled during transport to off-island medical appointments. It was the first time an SU law student appeared before the court.

Witherspoon's argument in Hoisington v. Williams, is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 10, under the supervision of Korematsu Center Clinical Teaching Fellow Anjana Malhotra and Korematsu Center Executive Director Bob Chang. He will argue that the visual body cavity searches and shackling of civilly-committed detainees constitute punitive conditions of confinement and unreasonable searches and seizures where residents are under constant armed guard during transport and other, less intrusive alternatives are available at the facility. 

Witherspoon started work on this case with Elise Fandrich and other students in the law school's Civil Rights Amicus Clinic last spring and is being supported in his preparation by faculty, members of the practicing bar, and student fellows of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality.