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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Appeals court cases heard

    Matters of life and death don’t usually find their way into the classroom, but that’s exactly what happened yesterday, as the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals listened to arguments in three cases on campus.

    Judges Sidney Thomas, Michael Hawkins and Richard Clifton held hearings in Room 146 of the James E. Rogers College of Law, most notably in the death-penalty case of George M. Lopez, a Tucson man convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 homicide of his 1-month-old son, Anthony.

    The case went to the state Supreme Court, where Lopez’s verdict was upheld. The appellate judges will issue their ruling at a later date.

    Naomi Jorgensen, a third-year law student, said although the judges kept a stern tone during the hearings, she was excited to see them and the lawyers in action.

    “”I’m always impressed by the seriousness of our profession,”” Jorgensen said.

    The state Supreme Court holds session on campus every year, but yesterday was only the second chance for students to see a federal appeals court at the UA, said Toni Massaro, College of Law dean.

    “”It’s an incredible opportunity for the students and the community,”” Massaro said. “”We’re very grateful.””

    Law professor Jane Korn said students read opinions from appellate courts in the cases they study. Students also study the differences between trial court arguments, which have no time limit to present witnesses and evidence, and appellate court arguments, which are timed and focus on matters of law rather than the facts of the case, she said.

    “”This is something they read about every day, and now they actually get to see it,”” Korn said.

    Some attorneys were visibly nervous during yesterday’s hearings, which Jorgensen said illustrated to her the importance of using a “”calm presence”” to highlight the strengths of an argument.

    The judges also heard a defamation case involving an allegation of using funds from a health maintenance organization to refurbish a restaurant, as well as the case of Bernadine Ray, who says she was fired unfairly from Tucson Old Pueblo Credit Union because of her age, which was 68 at the time.

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