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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Arizona Supreme Court visits UA to hear oral arguments

    The Arizona Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two Maricopa County cases yesterday at Centennial Hall, addressing a group of about 85 students and faculty.

    The court, whose yearly campus appearance is usually hosted at the James E. Rogers College of Law, found a new venue in Centennial Hall this year due to previous seating limitations, said Nancy Stanley, assistant director of public relations for the College of Law.

    “”The College of Law loves it when the court visits, because it gives students a chance to see a close-up of the way the Supreme Court functions,”” Stanley said.

    Toni Massaro, dean of the College of Law, said the opportunity for students to see lawyers and Supreme Court justices in action is invaluable.

    “”It makes it a little less scary for students when their turn comes,”” Massaro said.

    One of the cases heard yesterday dealt with liability for a death from an OxyContin overdose. The other case addressed the legality of electronic signatures. After hearing arguments for both cases, the court allotted time to answer students’ questions.

    Stanley said this allowed students to “”go behind the scenes”” to understand the justices’ perspectives.

    In response to one student’s question, Justice Andrew Hurwitz said the best way to build an argument is to choose the two best arguments and work on strengthening them.

    Often lawyers pose multiple arguments after the first has failed, which only tends to confuse justices, Hurwitz said.

    After viewing the interaction between lawyers and justices during oral argument hearings for these cases, students said they were both inspired and intimidated.

    “”It was great to see what we might be up against, inspiring and a little intimidating, in that we got to see judges asking really difficult questions to both parties,”” said Alexandra Tracy-Ramirez, a first-year law student.

    “”Law students tend to think that all of our questions will have trap doors, but sometimes a softball is just a softball,”” Hurwitz said.

    Some of the topics under review in the cases heard are issues first-year law students learn about in class, said Brandon Brim, a second-year law student.

    “”Since the advocates were not perfect arguers, it makes it seem possible for us to graduate and one day argue in front of the Supreme Court,”” Brim said.

    The hearings came as a result of months of planning by the court, who worked closely with the College of Law to establish effective security measures, including sending a metal detector and some of the court’s own officers to Centennial Hall, Stanley said.

    Most of the oral arguments heard by the Arizona Supreme Court are held at the Arizona State Courts Building in Phoenix, although arguments are heard at Arizona State University and the UA once a year, according to the Supreme Court’s Web site.

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