Judges Glenn Norton and Clifford Ahrens joined Chief Judge Richter to hold an appellate court session in the C-SC Mock Trial Courtroom on Tuesday, Nov. 30. The court normally holds session in downtown St. Louis, but, at least four times a year, the judges hold sessions in other areas of the district. The goal is to make the court accessible and open to Missouri residents who might not be able to travel to St. Louis. “We like to visit all parts of the district,” said Judge Norton, “we’re a court for everyone in the district not just the urban areas,” he continued.
C-SC students, faculty, staff and community members filled the Mock Trial Courtroom as the judges heard two appeals originating from Pike County, Mo., the first a child custody case, the second a division of property case. The appellate court’s principal function is to review and correct errors made in the primary or trial courts. During the proceedings, attorneys in both cases were given 15 minutes each to present their arguments. However, on average, it takes about 30 days for judges to decide whether to uphold or overturn the original judgment. Scott Kevin Baker, freshman political science and law major from Canton, Mo., is a member of the C-SC Mock Trial Team and attended the appellate court session. “It was really interesting, having gone through Mock Trial, to see how everything culminates, to see the things we do in Mock Trial put to practice in real life,” explains Baker.
Following the docket, the judges and attorneys held a question and answer session for students and others in attendance. Questions ranged from the basic procedures of the court to what classes would be most beneficial for undergraduates planning to attend law school. Chief Judge Richter, whose background includes an undergraduate degree from a liberal arts college, emphasized the importance of studying a broad range of subjects, developing good writing skills and maintaining a high grade point average. “Write, write, write,” said Chief Judge Richter. “So much of what we do in the legal profession is written, you need to be able to communicate clearly through writing. Students also need to realize that maintaining a high GPA is critical to being accepted into law school,” Richter continued.
Students say the experience offered them unique insight into the workings of the court. “It was a great experience; most undergraduates don’t get to sit ten feet away from an appellate court,” said Jessica Deters, junior criminal justice major from LaGrange, Mo. “It was a really fantastic opportunity, not only to see the court but to make connections with people we could potentially work with or see in our future careers,” explained Karrie Guthrie, senior criminal justice major from Independence, Mo. For Brandi Starks, junior criminal justice major, attending the appellate court session helped her determine what type of law career she’s most interested in pursuing. “It made me realize I don’t want to go into this type of law. I would much rather be a trial attorney, and that’s what I’m practicing with the Mock Trial Team,” explained Stark.
The appellate court session at Culver-Stockton College was coordinated by C-SC Senior Lecturer in Criminal Justice and Law Judy Abbott. Abbott is also the founder of the Culver-Stockton Mock Trial Team. Culver-Stockton students and Mock Trial Team members were also invited to attend a regular session of the appellate court in St. Louis next semester.
For more information on Culver-Stockton’s Criminal Justice major or the Mock Trial Team log on to www.culver.edu/humanities/justice.
Appellate court judges hear arguments in a child custody appeal.
C-SC students get advice from attorney Malaine Hagemeier.
Judge Clifford Ahrens takes time to talk with members of the C-SC Mock Trial Team.
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