Law School Hosts Supreme Court Of Texas
“May it please the Court” began the oral argument of the first attorney presenting to the Supreme Court of Texas, which convened in a packed auditorium at the Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth on Oct. 10.
At issue before the Court were two cases: William Brewer v. Lennox Health Product, involving the sanctioning of an attorney, and re: Murrin Brothers, which involves how organizations are represented when their owners are in conflict.
First-year law students Ashana Stanley and Abigail Davis said that students were given links to briefs on the cases to prepare for the sessions, and are completing assignments for separate courses. Professors “required us to take a quiz before the hearing to make sure we understood the overall, broad sense of what was being argued,” Stanley said.
While the legal questions merited in-depth discussions, those in the auditorium also noted the issues of polling/surveys, organizational development and governance and even linguistics.
Dean Robert Ahdieh welcomed the court, the faculty, staff and students of the School, and visitors from the local community.
“Our students will experience representatives of our legal profession at its very best – and see how our law is made,” Ahdieh said.
Chief Justice Nathan Hecht expressed his appreciation to the Texas A&M School of Law for hosting the session, and he provided a short history of the court’s 20-year program of holding sessions at venues away from Austin. This included a visit in 1999 to the Fort Worth campus, which at the time was the Texas Wesleyan School of Law.
“Beginning in 1998, we have tried to sit outside Austin twice each year – in the spring and again in the fall,” Hecht said.
He listed the advantages of these visits, which include offering the public the opportunity to “witness first hand how the Texas justice system at work.” He added that while the court has live webcasts and archives of video recordings of its proceedings, “actually being here presents an added dimension to the experience.”
During the oral arguments, as is typical, the prepared presentations of attorneys were quickly interrupted by the justices, cutting to the chase on specific points of law. The students were able to observe the legal give and take. The various attorneys “had their own style of arguing and were charismatic in their own way,” Stanley said.
Between cases, Professor of Law Neil Sobol led a Q&A session with the students in attendance.
“The visit provided an excellent opportunity for our students to see the Texas Supreme Court and attorneys in a live setting,” Sobol said. “Additionally, the justices not only graciously responded to questions after the morning hearings but also met with students at lunch and participated in our classes in the afternoon. Our law students were able to see how the concepts we discuss in class are used in the real world.”
The law students expressed their appreciation for this rare experience provided by the School of Law.
“Having no attorneys in my family, I am so thrilled to be able to witness oral arguments in person,” said first-year student Isabelle Chapman. “I feel very fortunate that the university has worked to get us this event.”
Attorney and past State Senator Ted Lyon, attending the oral arguments, said that the visit by the Texas Supreme Court to the Texas A&M School of Law “is wonderful because it gives law students the opportunity to see some of the best attorneys anywhere argue an important aspect of the law. I wish they’d done that back when I was in law school.”
Dean Ahdieh said the visit is emblematic of the role of the School of Law.
“Texas A&M School of Law aims to serve as a ‘meeting place’ for the legal and business communities of Fort Worth, North Texas and Texas to come together and engage the most challenging social, political and economic issues of the day,” Ahdieh said. “The Court’s visit offered an exciting opportunity for just such engagement.”
First-year law student student Reese Griffin said the opportunity to see the Texas Supreme Court makes me proud to attend the law school.
Watch the recordings of the oral arguments on cases heard at Texas A&M School of Law: