Tell us about your top U.S. Supreme Court or federal appeals court victory over the past year and how you and your team achieved the win.
We won a significant case in the U.S. Supreme Court on the scope of the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. Under the Act, defendants are required to pay a victim’s costs of participating in the government’s investigation or prosecution. The question here was whether defendants must also pay the costs of a victim’s own private investigation(s). Legal and accounting fees from internal investigations often run into the millions, so the aggregate stakes were substantial (nearly $5 million in our case alone).
We convinced the court to grant review despite a lopsided split against us (7-1), and then we convinced the court to adopt the position of the single circuit that went our way. The result was a dramatic change in the scope of restitution for federal crimes.
How did your firm approach appellate success over the past year?
We succeed in difficult, challenging appeals for a reason. There is no hierarchy or leverage. We explore every angle, think creatively, use rigorous logic, and mute conventional wisdom. With the same person tackling the appeal from start to finish, we discover connections that others miss.
What practice advice would you give your younger self?
Read the best legal writing and ask what makes it the best legal writing. Pay attention to effective argument styles but develop your own. Find mentors who believe in you. And remember to enjoy the process. This work is a privilege; it makes a difference.
Responses submitted by Daniel Geyser, founder of Geyser PC.