The Junior Fellows hosted the 10th Court of Appeals on Wednesday, April 18. The Court, which had never been in session in Walker County, visited the campus of SHSU and heard oral arguments for four separate cases, treating students, staff, faculty, and local residents to an interesting day of law.
The cases ranged from murder, to DWI, to drugs, with the cases originating in both Bryan-College Station and Walker County. As an accommodation to the special nature of the visit, the Court agreed to permit attorneys to provide factual information to the courtroom audience, allowing them greater involvement and understanding.
Certainly the involvement was there. More than 350 people attended the four cases, drawing large crowds from the student body, staff and faculty, and local residents. Robyn Flowers, the Walker County District Clerk, brought her entire staff. Other elected officials included Judge Steve Smith, District Attorney David Weeks, Judge Janie Farris, Sheriff Clint McRae, and City Council Member Tish Humphrey.
Walker County is one of 18 counties in the 10th Court’s jurisdiction. The Court’s permanent seat is in Waco, although state law allows the Justices to move venues for educational purposes, and that’s how Justices Gray, Davis, and Scoggins ended up at SHSU for the first time in the Court’s history.
The Junior Fellows’ jumped at the opportunity to facilitate the move to SHSU. Working with the CJ Center’s Ann Broussard and David Epps, the Fellows reserved the Kerper Courtroom and then set about marketing the event. COBA’s Laura Sullivan was enormously supportive, as were the Political Science Department’s John Domino and Tamara Waggener. Local media such as KSAM, SHSU’s Today@Sam, and CJ’s Beth Kuhles-Heiney reported on the story, although, disappointingly, the City’s local paper opted not to cover it.
Nonetheless, overflow crowds attended, with the third case, involving William Johnson’s conviction for the possession and delivery of a controlled substance, proving the most popular.
For students, staff, faculty, and interested locals, it was a great way to learn more about the Texas legal system. For the Junior Fellows, most of whom wish to be attorneys, it was especially interesting. In addition to the intriguing courtroom proceedings, the Junior Fellows were privileged to have lunch with the Justices, who offered law-school advice and good conversation.
The organization would like to thank the Justices and their staff, Ann Broussard, David Epps, Amanda Burris, Beth Kuhles-Heiney, Tracy Sorensen, and Professors Tamara Waggener, John Domino, Laura Sullivan, and Joey Robertson for their support.