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Courtside: Exxon Spill Award Hits High Court

Publication Date: 
February 11, 2008
Legal Times
Tony Mauro

Professor Jeffrey Fisher is quoted in Legal Times about his involvement with the 19-year-old Exxon Spill case that is being appealed in the Supreme Court:

Squaring off in Court will be busy lawyers who are also preparing for two other arguments between now and the end of April: former Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger of O’Melveny & Myers, and Stanford Law School professor Jeffrey Fisher, a young star of the Supreme Court bar who made his name representing criminal defendants before the high court — and winning.

Fisher was involved in the Exxon Valdez case at earlier stages at Seattle’s Davis Wright Tremaine, where he continues to co-chair the appellate group. But he acknowledges, “This is the first time I have really delved into maritime law.”


Fisher filed a DVD with the Court that includes audio of the first call made by ship captain Joseph Hazelwood after the accident, as well as other trial exhibits. The Exxon brief disputes whether Hazelwood was drunk at the time of the accident, but Fisher says the company is brazenly slanting the record.

The DVD was lodged with the Court in part, Fisher says, to remind it of “the community and social outrage” at the time of the spill. “After 19 years it is hard to get back in that place. It dissipates. It’s important to get the Court back to the event itself,” he says.


Fisher, for his part, will argue March 24 on behalf of criminal defendants in the sentencing case Burgess v. United States, and on April 16 in Kennedy v. Louisiana on whether capital punishment should be allowed for the crime of child rape.


Fisher said he was also emboldened to file the DVD with the Court because of the importance the justices attached to the car chase video in the case of Scott v. Harris last term.