Law student Frank “Kyle” Robertson spent his winter break drafting a recommendation for a case to the Arizona Supreme Court and then presented his argument Jan. 24.
Robertson participates in the Homeowner Advocacy Unit, a program through the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law that opened in August.
For the past few months, student attorneys in the HAU have been helping Arizona homeowners faced with wrongful foreclosures.
“Traditionally, I don’t think law schools had a whole lot of programs where people participated in real-world scenarios, but ASU has just tons of clinical opportunities and real-world opportunities,” Robertson said.
He joined HAU after becoming interested in mortgage law while working with bankruptcy Judge Charles Case in summer 2010.
Robertson said this was at the height of the national foreclosure problem.
“There seemed to be this resistance and disconnect between homeowners and banks,” Robertson said. “People were being foreclosed on with a lot of confusion.”
As part of the HAU, Robertson helped with different cases throughout the fall semester. He began following a case, Hogan v. Washington Mutual Bank, et. al, that was similar to a case the HAU had worked on.
The plaintiff in this case, John Hogan, filed a restraining order against the bank trying to foreclose on him because he believed it was going about the foreclosure in an illegal way.
Hogan’s case failed in both the lower court and an appellate court and was then chosen for review by the Arizona Supreme Court.
Although Robertson and HAU were not officially involved in the case, the Arizona Supreme Court allows lawyers to file amicus briefs, or briefs as friends of the court.
Robertson spent his winter break writing this brief, which served as a recommendation to the court.
“It was a lot of work (and) not the most ideal way to spend winter break, but it was well worth it,” Robertson said.
After he drafted the brief, it went through multiple revisions by professors at the law school as well as other lawyers who joined in the brief.
UA law professor Jean Braucher signed on with the brief and wrote revisions. Braucher specializes in bankruptcy law and said she was particularly interested in this case.
“It was a fabulous experience for a law student to draft an amicus brief and he also did a good job representing it,” Braucher said.
She said she watched his appearance in the courtroom on the Arizona Supreme Court website.
Robertson was able to appear in court because Hogan’s attorney shared his speaking time with Robertson. The Arizona Supreme Court allows each side of a lawsuit 20 minutes to make its case.
HAU assistant director Andrea Esquer said Robertson had a rare opportunity.
“Attorneys practice for years before they appear before the state Supreme Court,” Esquer said.
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