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Field Trip to the Supreme Court

By Bruna Pacheco
On November 6, 2017

Photo by: Bruna Pacheco

Hundreds of students, lawyers and community members turned out on a Tuesday evening for the first Kansas Supreme Court session in Emporia, hosted by Emporia State University.

The event, held Oct. 3, was unusual due to the fact that Supreme Court procedures are not generally held at night, which allowed three Ottawa University students and Communications Law and Ethics Professor Elizabeth Oliver the opportunity to attended the event.

“It was definitely worth the drive, even on a Tuesday night,” said John Hawks, an OU Junior. “We witnessed history in the making, and the justices were pretty fun to watch in action.”

There were seven Justices total: Justice Biles, Justice Rosen, Justice Luckert, Justice Beier, Justice Johnson, Justice Stegall and, last but not least, the Chief Justice Nuss.

Throughout the evening the audience heard oral arguments in two cases. An oral argument is a discussion of facts and law involved in a case upon appeal. Attorneys are granted 15 minutes each to present their cases.

The first civil case was from 2010 that involved a couple driving through Cowley County when their vehicle skidded down a 15-foot dropoff and flipped over into the Arkansas River where they drowned.

The second case also happened in 2010, in relation to a murder. However, that’s not what the case was about. This case was because one of the jurors was dismissed from the jury after it was discovered he went to the same high school as the person on trial.

Both cases had very different evidences and also offered different examples of communication ethics.

Oliver thought the evening was a great learning opportunity for students to see law in action.

“As an attorney, I am proud of the time and effort made by the Kansas Supreme Court every day and believe that the travelling dockets are essential for making the legal process visible and accessible to all Kansans,” she said.

The event also included a reception with the judges. This allowed the students an opportunity to talk with them along with a photo-taking and signature-collecting meet-and-greet session afterward.


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