Court of Appeals, Western District, convenes at WWU

William Woods University students had
the opportunity to observe the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, in
action when the court convened at WWU April 3.
Among the cases heard was one regarding whether a videotape
deposition from the victim and letter of apology from the accused should have
been allowed during a trial in which the defendant was charged with statutory
sodomy in the first degree.

A three-judge panel, consisting of Gary Witt, Thomas
Newton and Mark Pfeiffer, heard oral arguments in five cases in the Weitzman
Model Courtroom in the Burton Business Building.
 
Chief Judge James Welsh explained that the cases were appeals
from previously held trials in area circuit courts.  The three judges recessed in between
arguments to step down and discuss the court system and generally explain
proceedings.
 
The judges heard attorneys argue whether the trials had
errors, which should cause them to be retried, or the trial court’s judgment
reversed.  The judges read written arguments
before the court session and could interrupt the attorneys’ arguments with
questions.
 
Cases heard included
  • A liability settlement involving
    nursing home employees
  • A solid waste contract  
  • An involuntary manslaughter
    charge
  • Denial of a reciprocal
    veterinary license
 
This was the court’s 21st 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.
 
Witt presided over the proceedings.  He was appointed to the court of appeals in
2010.  Before his appointment, he
practiced law in Platte City, served in the Missouri House of Representatives
and was an associate circuit judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit. 
 
Newton was appointed to the court of appeals in
1999.  Previously, he served as an
assistant prosecuting attorney in Jackson County, an assistant United States
attorney and as a circuit judge in the 16th Judicial Circuit. 
 
Pfeiffer was appointed to the Western District in
2009.  Before his appointment, he
practiced law in Springfield and, later, Columbia.   
 
During the past 21 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, St. Joseph,
Savannah, Trenton, Tuscumbia and Warrensburg. 
 
“It is important for the court to convene oral arguments
outside of Kansas City,” Witt 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.
                                                           
 
CUTLINE:
Lawyers present their cases to justices of the Missouri Court
of Appeals, Western District (left to right) Thomas Newton Gary Witt and Mark
Pfeiffer. The court convened April 3 in William Woods University’s Weitzman
Model Courtroom. The courtroom is also used by WWU legal studies students for
mock trials and other educational endeavors. (Photos by Meghan Greenwalt)