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Court of Appeals schedules oral arguments at Mississippi College School of Law

November 9, 2007

The Mississippi Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson on November 13 as part of the court’s commitment to education.

Oral arguments will be heard in Room 151 at the Law School at 151 East Griffith Street. At 2:30 p.m., the Court will hear arguments in the case of Ronald “Rudy” Moore v. State of Mississippi, cause No. 2006-KA-01707-COA. The case is an appeal of a Hinds County Circuit Court criminal conviction for the charges of aggravated assault and armed robbery.

Arguments will be presented by Hinds County Assistant Public Defender Virginia Lynn Watkins and Special Assistant Attorney General Stephanie Wood. Attorneys are allowed 20 minutes per side to present their arguments.

Members of the Court of Appeals occasionally schedule oral arguments on college campuses as a teaching tool for law school or pre-law students. This will be the third presentation away from the courtroom this year. The Court heard cases on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg on March 7, and at the University of Mississippi School of Law in Oxford on April 17. It is the first time that the Court has convened to hear an oral argument on the campus of the Mississippi College School of Law.

Court of Appeals Judge David A. Chandler of Ackerman said that holding oral arguments on college campuses helps the public to understand the duties and operation of the judiciary. It gives people an opportunity to observe the court in operation.

Judge Chandler said, “The students have an opportunity to step outside the classroom and into the real world. This oral argument event is a demonstration of what is likely to become a rather common activity for many of the students following graduation and admission to the bar because appellate practice is a major portion of almost any law practice. So the students have an opportunity to view first-hand, lawyers performing legal duties in a real legal setting so they will have a better understanding of what lies ahead when they become a member of this wonderful profession.”

Mississippi College School of Law Dean Jim Rosenblatt said, “We believe our students will benefit from being able to watch the Mississippi Court of Appeals in action.... Observation and demonstration are valuable learning techniques.”

Dean Rosenblatt said he hopes the Court of Appeals will consider scheduling other oral arguments at the law school, which is located a few blocks from the court. “We would like to host a Court of Appeals hearing on a regular basis and look forward to the participation of our students,” he said.

The proceedings are open to the public.

The Nov. 13 oral arguments will not be broadcast live via the Internet on the Court’s web site, since the Court of Appeals is convening a special session away from its camera-equipped courtroom. The proceeding will be taped, and the video will be available later on the Mississippi College School of Law’s web site.

Mississippi College School of Law in October began archiving the oral arguments of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals and making them available to the public for retrieval via the Internet 24 hours a day. Oral arguments in more than 300 cases from 2004 to the present are available in the Internet-accessible database. The law school in October also began archiving newly filed appellate briefs.

A link to the oral argument audio-visual archive is available on the web page of the Mississippi College School of Law Library at http://lawwin2k3.mc.edu/videoarchive/court.asp. The link to the briefs archive is http://lawwin2k3.mc.edu/briefs/.

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith Jr. in an Aug. 10 order for the En Banc Court said, “Having considered the proposal, the Supreme Court finds that the ability for the public to retrieve and view past oral arguments is in the interest of better legal education and a better understanding by the public of legal processes and will promote public confidence in our legal system.”

Dean Rosenblatt said more than 1,150 hits on the oral argument archive were recorded during the first two weeks of availability on the web site.

Dean Rosenblatt said, “Now anyone with access to the Internet can view these hearings on their home or office computer at any time of the day.”

Dean Rosenblatt said, “This web site will serve as an educational tool and can be used by high school civics classes, practicing attorneys, or members of the public. Law students can observe the hearings and gain insights as to how to prepare for their law school appellate advocacy arguments and can review the briefs filed in the case.”

Dean Rosenblatt said, “We are providing this service at no charge to the Supreme Court or to individual users so that the legal community and the public could have greater access to the hearings of our Mississippi appellate courts. The web site is the result of great work done by our law librarians and our information technology staff.”

The Supreme Court and Court of Appeals have broadcast their oral arguments via the Internet in real time since 2001 on the court web site, www.mssc.state.ms.us. The Court makes the arguments available for later viewing on CDs which may be purchased in the office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court.

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