A third-year law student at Wake Forest University accomplished what no other criminal appellate lawyer in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has managed: She won a reversal of a 15-year conviction for a felon in possession of a firearm based on the defense the possession was justified.

Although all eight circuits that have considered the issue have allowed “justification” as a defense to prosecution of felons found with guns, this is the first case in which the conservative 4th Circuit has overturned a guilty plea and allowed a defendant to seek a trial based on the claim. U.S. v. Mooney, No. 06-7565.

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