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Q+A: Jeff Fisher, Co-Director Of The Supreme Court Litigation Clinic

Publication Date: 
April 30, 2013
The Stanford Daily
Angela Zhang

Professor Jeffrey Fisher, co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, spoke with the Stanford Daily's Angela Zhang in a Q&A interview about his experience arguing in front the of the Supreme Court and the legal implications of Salinas v. Texas on Fifth Amendment rights.

Professor of Law Jeff Fisher is the co-director of the Law School’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic and an expert on Supreme Court practice and criminal procedure. On April 17, Fisher argued Salinas v. Texas for petitioner Genovevo Salinas in front of the Court. The Daily sat down with Fisher to talk about Salinas, his legal career and the experience of presenting an argument to America’s highest judicial body.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): How did you first develop your interest in Supreme Court practice and criminal court procedure?

Jeff Fisher (JF): That’s a big question. I suppose through college and growing up, the same way I developed interest in the law: the importance of the way the law affects people’s lives. And the Supreme Court, of course, is one of the most important legal institutions in the country.


TSD: How did you become involved with Salinas v. Texas?

JF: Through my work as co-director of the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. What the clinic does is, we offer pro bono services in terms of student resources and faculty supervision to help people who have cases that are either in the Court or headed there, that don’t otherwise have the ability to pay for top-flight Supreme Court counsel.

We learned about the case after the highest court in Texas decided it. We called the local lawyers in Houston and offered our assistance to them, the client and his family, and they accepted it.

TSD: Can you talk about the basics of the case?

JF: The case is about the Fifth Amendment right not to be compelled to be a witness against yourself, which in common vernacular is the right to remain silent. And so the question in this case is whether somebody who’s asked by the police to do a voluntary interview before he’s under arrest has that same right to remain silent and is protected in legal proceedings the same way as somebody else who’s under arrest or already in the courtroom.