By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District will convene at Missouri Western State University Thursday morning to hear oral arguments in St. Joseph.
The Clerk of the Court, Susan Sonnenberg, says the court began hearing oral arguments away from its Kansas City courthouse more than 20 years ago.
“And, basically, everything that the attorneys wanted to say are in briefs and so this is the opportunity for the judges to ask them things that maybe weren’t in the briefs or wanting them to explain things and just really get a handle on what the case is about,” Sonnenberg tells St. Joseph Post.
It is also the opportunity for the public to see the court in action, to observe judges hearing oral arguments and asking questions.
“I think there’s some mystery surrounding it,” Sonnenberg says the appellate court’s work. “People always hear about, the U.S. Supreme Court said blah, blah, you know, and it’s where the precedent comes from. Our court is the court of last resort for a lot of people. The Supreme Court only has to take certain cases.”
A three-judge panel consisting of Chief Judge Karen Mitchell, Judge Lisa White Hardwick and Judge Thomas N. Chapman will hear oral arguments in four cases, all appeals from trial court decisions. Attorney will argue the merits of the trial court decision and the judges can interrupt to ask questions at any time.
The full Western District Missouri Court of Appeals is comprised of 11 judges. The court presides over 45 counties.
Sonnenberg says the court has been holding hearings outside Kansas City for more than 20 years. She says high school and college students often attend, but anyone is welcome to attend.
Judges will hold a question and answer session afterward.
The court session begins at 9:30 Thursday morning in the Kemper Recital Hall, Spratt Hall, Room 101.
The MWSU Department of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies and Social Work sponsors the event.