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David Mills: From Spare Bedroom to Supreme Court

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on November 03, 2010 6:46 AM

Maybe this is the year of the rookie. San Francisco Giant Buster Posey notwithstanding, there is a one more rookie that may be making a name for himself this year. With stats that sound akin to major league baseball, the number of attorneys who will argue a case before the Supreme Court is less than 1 in 10,000; a number which now includes Cleveland attorney David Eduard Mills.

Mills, 33, isn't technically a rookie. He has about four years at major hitters Jones Day under his belt, according to the profile in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. But David Mills is a brand new solo practitioner and this week absolutely was his rookie debut before the High Court.

After striking out on his own in a tiny office in his apartment's spare bedroom, Mills was doing appellate work before the 6th Circuit. According to The Plain Dealer, he heard that a woman named Michele Ortiz was shopping around for an attorney who could take her case to the Supreme Court in a hurry. Ortiz needed an extension filed right away. Enter Mills.

The Plain Dealer reports that 9,302 petitions were filed this term, with only 82 granted. Despite those long odds, the High Court granted cert. The facts of Mills' case are riveting. The Plain Dealer reports that Ortiz was sexually assaulted twice by a prison guard and put in solitary confinement for reporting the incidents. Ortiz sued and won a jury award of $625,000 at trial. However, the case comes to the Court on a more technical question: Can the defendants in the case appeal the denial of summary judgment after trial?

The circuits are split on the summary judgment question, so the Court will hear the case. The Plain Dealer reports that the defendants have registered 26 amicus briefs from varying states, so for Mills, this will be no easy win.

But like the World Champion Giants rookies, David Mills has done his time on the farm team and his homework. The Plain Dealer reports that so far, he has put in 450 hours on the case and feels he is ready. "Appropriately nervous is what I'm shooting for," he said before arguments.

According to the ABA Journal, the "Long Shot Kid" got exactly eight seconds of oral argument in before being questioned by Chief Justice John Roberts. We'll have to wait and see if the Kid hit a home run.

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