Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, to Sit at WWU

The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, will convene court at William Woods University on Tuesday, Nov. 8, Chief Judge Edwin H. Smith announced.

A three-judge panel consisting of Smith, Judge Thomas Newton and Judge Lisa White Hardwick will hear oral arguments in three cases in the Bernard Weitzman Courtroom located in the Burton Business and Economics Building, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Smith explained that the cases are appeals from previously held trials in area circuit courts. The judges will hear attorneys argue whether the trials had errors that 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 attorney’s arguments with questions.

The three judges will recess between arguments to discuss the court system and generally explain proceedings.

This will be the court’s eleventh visit to the William Woods campus since the university opened its model courtroom in April of 2000. The courtroom is named for St. Louis attorney Bernard W. Weitzman, a member of the WWU Board of Trustees.

According to Cynthia Kramer, director of legal studies and associate professor of political science, the model courtroom has numerous advantages for students in both academics and co-curricular activities. Providing a place for the court of appeals to convene and allowing students to observe is just one of those benefits.

“A model courtroom is to the study of law, government and politics what a biology lab is to the study of biology. It is a laboratory. It is a facility which enables students to put into practice the theoretical knowledge they have learned in the classroom. It is the tool that allows them to apply theory to real life,” said Kramer.

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.

Smith will preside over the proceedings at William Woods. He was an associate circuit judge for nine years in Andrew and Buchanan counties prior to his appointment to the Western District in 1995. He assumed the duties of chief judge of the Western District in July, 2004.

Newton was a circuit judge in Jackson County for six years before his appointment to the court in 1999. Prior to judicial service, he served as an assistant prosecuting attorney and an assistant United States attorney.

Hardwick is the newest member of the Western District, having been appointed in 2001. Previously she practiced law for 14 years and served as a circuit judge in Jackson County for two years.

“It is important for the court to convene oral arguments outside of Kansas City,” Smith 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.”

During the past 14 years, the court has held sessions in Columbia, Fulton, Moberly, Kirksville, Chillicothe, Tuscumbia, Sedalia, St. Joseph, Maryville, Marshall, Gallatin, Linneus, Warrensburg, Macon, Nevada, Lexington, Independence, Jefferson City, Savannah, Clinton, Liberty, Richmond and Trenton.