Texas Supreme Court to hear cases at ACU

Posted October 20, 2015

ACU students will have a rare opportunity to see the Texas Supreme Court in action without ever leaving campus.

Members of the state’s highest court will bring two cases to Abilene Christian University on Nov. 12-13 as part of an educational program and will also take the opportunity to meet with local officials and local attorneys.

The court will participate in a reception that Thursday evening, hear appeals for two cases Friday morning, and speak to selected student groups Friday afternoon.  The Friday morning sessions will be open to the public.

Dr. Neal Coates, chair of ACU’s political science department, said the court rotates visiting a Texas law school, college or university each semester. ACU was selected for the first time this year, he said.

“We are thrilled that the court can hear cases here,” Coates said. “For more than 25 years, ACU has had an outstanding pre-law program, and this event is a reminder to our current and future students that ACU is a superb place to prepare for law school.”

ACU is inviting local officials, including Taylor County commissioners, the Abilene City Council, the local bar association and the Eastland Court of Appeals to the events. In addition to ACU students, selected student groups from McMurry University and Hardin-Simmons University also will attend.

Classes chosen to visit with the justices are studying subjects the court hears, such as business and civil matters. Students taking courses in Business Law, American Judicial Process and Communication Law will attend, as well as pre-law students and students involved in servant-leadership through ACU’s Lynay program.

One of the current justices, Jeffrey Boyd, is a 1983 graduate of ACU. Former Chief Justice Jack Pope graduated from ACU in 1934 went on to a long and distinguished judicial career in Texas. The Jack Pope Fellows Program at ACU was created in his honor for students pursuing careers in public service.

“We’ve had students go on to law school all across America, from Harvard to Pepperdine, and they have served in roles from Congress to the largest firms in Texas,” Coates said. “This legacy began with Jack Pope.”

The court, which normally sits in Austin, will hear appeals for two cases beginning at 9 a.m. Friday. Those sessions are open to the public, said Coates. In the afternoon, the justices will hold Q&A sessions with student groups. Students currently in ACU’s Jack Pope program will have the opportunity to take pictures with the justices and hear a special session with Boyd and Chief Justice Nathan Hecht.

For persons wanting to attend one or both of the oral arguments, please be aware of security procedures for this special event. First, for those planning to attend the first oral argument at 9 a.m., enter the Hunter Welcome Center no later than 8:30 a.m. to be processed through security. No backpacks will be allowed in the courtroom — please do not bring them to the building. Also, be aware that wanding for security will be used, and this may result in a delay in entry to the courtroom. No entry will be allowed into the courtroom while the hearing is underway.

For persons planning to attend the second oral argument at 9:45 a.m., enter the Hunter Welcome Center no later than 9:15 a.m. to be ready to go through security.  Those staying for both cases do not have to leave the courtroom.

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