Tell us about your top U.S. Supreme Court or federal circuit court victory over the past year and how you and your team achieved the win. We won a U.S. Supreme Court case for intellectually disabled Texas death row inmate Bobby Moore [in Moore v. Texas], resulting in a decision with far-reaching implications for use of the death penalty against those with intellectual disabilities. We adopted a wide-ranging strategy to show the Supreme Court the implications of Texas’ standard in order to have the court grant certiorari (after many unsuccessful efforts by others) and then strike down the Texas standard as unconstitutional. Our efforts ranged from assembling a broad coalition of amicus support (including national medical organizations and distinguished legal groups) to finding unpublished, never-publicized court decisions stored in obscure Texas courthouses that showed the injustice of the standard.
How did your firm approach appellate success over the past year? We succeed in appellate law because our firm pairs world-class subject matter [and] appellate knowledge (including 11 partners who are former Supreme Court clerks).
What practice advice would you give your younger self? 1. Anticipate and embrace the most difficult challenges in your case. This will help develop succinct, persuasive, and well-thought-out arguments. 2. Ground your arguments in a deep understanding of the real-world consequences of the issues.
Responses submitted by Cliff Sloan, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.