Western hosts Court of Appeals

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Missouri Western hosted the Missouri Court of Appeals for the seventeenth consecutive year on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

The Court of Appeals hosted a three-judge panel, which included Karen King Mitchell, Cindy Martin and Gary Witt. These judges heard arguments for five cases.

Western’s Department of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies & Social Work sponsored the event.

Suzanne Kissock, associate professor of legal studies and legal studies program director, said that the Court of Appeals is an important opportunity for students to experience a real court hearing.

“As citizens, students need to know what happens when you appeal a court case,” Kissock said. “It’s important to know what happens when you aren’t happy with a decision.”

Kissock said that the Court of Appeals is also a good opportunity for the community to learn about the court room experience.

“The general public doesn’t understand and feels intimidated by the legal process,” she said. “That’s the reason I love it. Now, you can learn and see what happens first hand. It’s not something you can’t understand.”

The Court of Appeals usually meets in Kansas City, Mo. The Court has jurisdiction in 45 counties in central and western Missouri. The jurisdiction is over appeals from trial courts.

Mitchell was presiding judge in the Court at Western on Tuesday. In a press release, Mitchell spoke on the importance of the event.

“It is important for the Court to convene oral arguments outside of Kansas City,” Mitchell said. “This gives individuals an opportunity to observe a part of the judicial system they normally do not see.”

Dr. David Tushaus, professor and department chairperson for CJLS, said this is a good chance for students to see something different.

“This is a unique opportunity to see a court in action that is normally in Kansas City, and now it’s in our own backyard,” Tushaus said.

The Court hears arguments about previously held trial cases. After hearing the verbal argument, the Court decides whether or not there was an error in the process of the original trial. If there was, a retrial or reversal is required.

The Court has held sessions in cities all over Missouri, including Chillicothe, Columbia, Fulton, Independence, Jefferson City, Kirksville, Liberty, Macon, Marshall, Moberly, Nevada, Platte City, Richmond, Savannah, Trenton and Warrensburg.

The five cases that were heard on Tuesday included one regarding second-degree murder and two regarding sex crimes.

Kissock and Tushaus both agreed they look forward to continuing the seventeen year tradition.

“We hope the court continues to hold session here every October,” Tushaus said.

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