The Carbon County landowner who lost a civil suit alleging four hunters trespassed by passing through the airspace above his ranch has hired three appeal attorneys, including one who clerked for Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh.
The three lawyers filed papers in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit to represent Elk Mountain Ranch owner Fred Eshelman’s Iron Bar Holdings company. Chief Judge Scott Skavdahl of the U.S. District Court for Wyoming ruled against Eshelman, who had sued four Missouri men who corner crossed to hunt public land enmeshed in his 22,045-acre ranch. Eshelman appealed the judgment to the 10th circuit in Denver.
The moves suggest Eshelman is serious in pursuing the case through the highest levels of the legal system.
All of the attorneys work for Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, which has offices in Denver, Washington, D.C. and other cities. The company earned recognition as one of the country’s top firms dealing with appeals.
Here’s a sketch of the new players in the 2-year-old case.
R. Reeves Anderson graduated from North Carolina State University as valedictorian. He earned a Master’s degree from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and got his law degree from Yale. He is a partner in the firm’s appellate and Supreme Court division and has appeared before the high court at least 50 times, according to a company profile.
A student of law, his research and articles about cases have drawn praise. The firm, known for its volunteer work, appointed him to its pro bono committee in 2011. He was a member of the team that won a civil rights verdict for protesters injured by Denver police during George Floyd protests in 2020.
Senior Associate Sean A. Mirski, who works in the firm’s D.C. office, brings experience clerking for Supreme Court Justice Alito and for Kavanaugh when the latter was on the bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He was special counsel for the U.S. Department of Defense, is a scholar and student of U.S. foreign policy and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. Forbes put him on its list of “30 under 30” up-and-comers for law and policy in 2019.
Brian Williams, a magna-cum-laude BYU alum, earned his law degree at Georgetown Law Center, where he graduated with honors. He lives in Denver and some of his pro-bono work with advocacy groups has aimed to strengthen gun safety.
The trio replaces former Eshelman attorneys Theresa Wardon Benz and Kristin Arthur. Iron Bar Holdings’ opening brief is due by Nov. 6. Eshelman attorney Greg Weisz remains on the team.
Corner crossing is the act of stepping from one section of public land to another over the common corner with two pieces of private property, all arranged in a checkerboard pattern. Eshelman sued the hunters, even though they did not set foot on his land during hunts in 2020 and 2021, claiming their passing through airspace above his property constituted trespass.The hunters claimed the federal Unlawful Inclosures Act of 1885 prevents landowners from blocking access to public land in such situations, a defense with which Skavdahl agreed.