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Legal Studies' Meltzer Wins Appeals in Federal, State Courts

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Legal studies' Lecturer Brett Meltzer, who teaches at the UCF Sanford/Lake Mary campus, is known for presenting clear, concise lectures in the classroom. He recently showed he excels in appeals courts as well.

As a practicing attorney, Meltzer last fall represented an indigent client on appeal in front of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit -- the appellate court immediately below the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Eleventh Circuit grants few oral arguments in cases, according to Meltzer; however, the appellate court accepted his case. On Nov. 19, he made a spirited oral argument on behalf of his client in front of appellate lawyers and a panel of judges at the circuit's Montgomery, Ala., court location.

On Dec. 15, he learned he had won the appeal.

"This is an achievement that many lawyers practicing their entire career cannot claim," said legal studies Chair James Beckman.  

That same week Meltzer also learned he had won an appeal to the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal.


Below are Meltzer's descriptions of the two appeals.

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
This case involved an important constitutional issue that raised questions about whether or not my client was prejudiced at trial after evidence was introduced based on a warrantless search of his cell phone. At the trial level, the U.S. District Court denied my client's Motion to Suppress evidence obtained from the warrantless search of his phone. After his trial, the U.S. Supreme Court in another case squarely rejected the same reasoning used by the district court in Riley v. California. On appeal, I challenged the district court's ruling and appealed my client's conviction. The United States argued that the case should still be affirmed because of the Independent Source and Good Faith Exceptions to the exclusionary rule. I argued that those exceptions did not apply as the required factual findings were never found by the district court. In a ruling, weeks after the oral argument, I learned that the three-judge appellate panel agreed with me and remanded the case back to the trial court reserving jurisdiction.    

Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal
The state case involved an important legal question regarding the trial court's role in interpreting an agreement a divorcing couple made with each other during their divorce proceeding. A few years later the issue of the meaning of the agreement came up in court. Both family and contractual law governed. The trial court erred in its interpretation of the agreement. I argued on behalf of my client that a certain interpretation should prevail and that the trial court should have taken evidence on that issue. The appellate court agreed with my position.

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