HUNTINGTON – The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia heard cases at Marshall University on Sept. 18 as part of the university’s celebration of Constitution Week.
Alan B. Gould, a history professor at Marshall and the executive director of the John Deaver Drinko Academy for American Political Institutions and Civic Culture, said the Supreme Court hearing cases at the university is an important event for the students, the general public and for the Supreme Court justices for a number of reasons.
“Coming to Marshall to hear cases gives the justices a chance to get away from their own courtrooms and get a change of scenery,” Gould said. “But, it also gives students and the general public the benefit of seeing our judicial system in action.”
Gould said it is a wonderful opportunity for students to see real, live court cases as opposed to what they see on television.
Erin Jeffery, 21, a criminal justice student at Marshall, said it was a wonderful opportunity to see the court session for the first time.
“I’ve been to traffic court and a federal preliminary hearing before during an internship, but it was really great to see an actual court session,” Jeffery said. “It was great seeing the local high schools here, too. It would’ve been nice to see something like this when I was in high school.”
State Supreme Court candidate Tish Chafin said she loves to come to events and support Marshall University.
“I graduated from here, and having the court session at Marshall is a great way for the students to see how the judicial system really works,” said Chafin, who attended Tuesday’s session. “There was a great turnout today. It’s great to see students from many of the local high schools here to witness this event.”
Justice Robin Jean Davis said it was an honor to be able to hold the court session at Marshall.
“It’s important for the students to see what we do; it’s a wonderful opportunity for them,” Davis said. “It’s also interesting to be able to sit in a different forum for a change.”
Davis said it is important for the court to travel across the state so students are able to see what the Supreme Court does.
“It’s great for the court to be able to travel, but we would also like to encourage students to visit our courtroom in Charleston,” Davis said. “The Supreme Court courtroom in Washington, D.C. was patterned after ours, and it’s open for the public to visit.”
Chief Justice Menis Ketchum said it means a lot to him to be able to hear arguments at Marshall because he is from Huntington and previously served on Marshall University’s Board of Governors.
“It’s important that people know how the court operates,” Ketchum said. “It also gives students a lot of experience to actually get to see court hearings in person and not just from their textbooks.”
Ketchum said the cases they chose to hear at the event were chosen because they thought they would be interesting for the students to hear.
“We wanted to hear cases the students would be interested in and not something they would become bored with,” Ketchum said.
Ketchum said he hopes to keep returning to Marshall University in the future during Constitution Week.
“As long as President Kopp will let us, and as long as I’m part of the Supreme Court, we will keep coming back,” Ketchum said. “It’s a great learning experience.”
Marshall’s Constitution Week runs until Sept. 27. There will also be a birthday celebration with an 8-foot by 4-foot birthday cake for John Marshall, the school’s namesake, on Sept. 24 and a lecture by the Robert C. Byrd Forum on Civic Responsibility Professor Jean Edward Smith on Sept. 27.