Court of Appeals to convene at William Woods

gavel on white backgroundA case regarding a charge of age discrimination against Lincoln University and another against the Division of Employment Security for denial of unemployment benefits are among the four appeals the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District will hear with it convenes court at William Woods University Wednesday, April 6.

A three-judge panel consisting of Chief Judge Alok Ahuja and fellow Western District judges Mark Pfeiffer and Karen King Mitchell will hear oral arguments in those two cases and two cases involving child custody.

The court will convene at 1 p.m. in the Bernard J. Weitzman Model Courtroom on the lower level of the Burton Business and Economics Building.

The cases are appeals from previously held trials in area circuit courts, Ahuja explained. The judges will hear attorneys argue whether the trials had errors, which should cause them 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.

The three judges will recess sometime in between arguments to step down and discuss the court system and generally explain proceedings, Ahuja said.american-flag-gavel-scales-of-justice

This will be the Court’s 24th visit to the William Woods campus. The Court convenes regularly in Kansas City. Its jurisdiction is appeals from trial courts in 45 counties, which include all of northwest Missouri and most of central Missouri.

Ahuja will preside over the proceedings in Fulton. He was appointed to the Western District in 2008.  Before his appointment, he practiced law in Washington D.C. and Kansas City. He will be completing a two-year term as the Western District chief judge on June 30.

Pfeiffer was appointed to the Court in 2009. Prior to that, he practiced law in Springfield and Columbia. He lives in Columbia. Like Pfeiffer, Mitchell also lives in Columbia.  She was appointed to the court of appeals in 2009.  Immediately prior to her appointment, she served as the Director of Revenue for the State of Missouri.  Earlier, she had served as the Deputy Attorney General.

During the past 24 years, the Court has held sessions in Chillicothe, Clinton, Columbia, Fulton, Gallatin, Huntsville, Independence, Jefferson City, Keytesville, Kirksville, Lexington, Liberty, Linneus, Macon, Marshall, Maryville, Milan, Nevada, Platte City, Richmond, Rockport, St. Joseph, Savannah, Trenton, Tuscumbia and Warrensburg.

“It is important for the Court to convene oral arguments outside of Kansas City,” Ahuja said.  “This gives individuals an opportunity to observe a part of the judicial system they normally do not see.  We hope those attending will gain a better understanding of the Court’s function.”