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Law students contribute to Supreme Court case

Two Stetson University College of Law students and their environmental law professor worked with the National Wildlife Federation to prepare an amicus brief in a wetlands case heading to the U.S. Supreme Court in January.

Stetson second-year student Marc Shumaker and third-year law student Erin Okuno helped prepare the brief with Stetson law professor Royal Gardner and NWF attorney Jan Goldman-Carter. Shumaker and Gardner will observe oral arguments at the high court on Jan. 15.

The case could impact wetlands across the country.

“Assisting with the amicus brief was an exciting and unique experience,” said Okuno. “It was incredible to work on a brief that was actually sent to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The case of Koontz v. St Johns River Water Management District has been in litigation for a number of years and is now before the U.S Supreme Court.

The St. Johns River Water Management District is responsible for preserving and managing Florida’s vital water resources in all or part of 18 counties throughout the northeast and east–central part of the state.

The amicus brief, filed by Gardner and Goldman-Carter on behalf of 12 distinguished wetland scientists, academics and professionals, is a science-based brief. It describes the critical ecosystem services that wetlands provide to people, businesses and communities; the importance of “no net loss” of wetland functions; and the need for accountability in the loss and gain of wetland functions.

“There is no excuse to continue to allow wetland losses, now that we know how effective wetlands are in providing clean water and other essential services,” said Joy B. Zedler, past chair of the National Research Council Committee on Mitigating Wetland Losses Committee, and one of the amicus parties.

Gardner, the director of the Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy at Stetson, won the National Wetlands Award for Education and Outreach in 2006 and is the past chair of the U.S. National Ramsar Committee, promoting the conservation and sustainable use of domestic and international wetlands.

Read this and other news releases from the Stetson University College of Law at www.law.stetson.edu.