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Feb. 27, 2018
The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, will again convene at Northwest Missouri State University and hear oral arguments in four cases, beginning at 1 p.m., Monday, March 12, in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom.
A three-judge panel consisting of Western District judges Alok Ahuja and Karen King Mitchell and Missouri Supreme Court Judge Zel Fischer will hear the arguments and remain after the court session to discuss the court system and explain the proceedings.
The program is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Northwest’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Northwest Pre-Law Society.
“The Court of Appeals for the Western District is the final word, other than the Missouri Supreme Court, in interpreting state law in this part of the state,” Daniel Smith, an assistant professor of political science, said. “It’s a central part of the legal system in Missouri, and its decisions affect all of us.”
The court has convened annually at Northwest since 2010, and the March 12 session will mark the 10th time it has sat for arguments in Maryville. Although the Western District convenes regularly at its courthouse in downtown Kansas City, it consists of 45 counties in central and western Missouri and holds court frequently in other locations within the district.
The court will hear appeals from previously held trials and other proceedings in area circuit courts. The judges will hear attorneys argue whether errors were made, requiring the cases to be retried or the trial court’s judgment reversed. The judges will read written arguments before the court session and may interrupt the attorneys’ arguments with questions.
“For students interested in how our government works, watching appellate oral arguments is both important and fascinating,” Smith said. “It’s not a trial, but presentations by attorneys in front of a panel of judges who interrupt and question them to get at the legal issues and implications. This year, the judges will be addressing issues as diverse as what an unreasonable search means under the state constitution and what are the legal duties of care of athletic camp counselors.”
Fischer, a native of Rock Port, Missouri, was appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court in 2008. Previously he was the associate circuit judge for Atchison County and practiced law in Atchison, Holt, Nodaway and Platte counties.Ahuja joined the Western District in 2008. He previously practiced law in Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, Missouri. Mitchell was appointed to the Western District in 2009. Immediately prior to her appointment she served as Missouri’s director of revenue and earlier served as the deputy attorney general.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468