TACOMA, Wash. – The public is invited to observe the Washington Supreme Court in action, as three legal cases are argued by opposing attorneys on stage at University of Puget Sound.
The cases are being heard live in Tacoma so the public has a chance to observe the justice system in action, and so people can take the rare opportunity to pose questions to the nine justices. The “traveling court” is part of the Supreme Court’s policy of providing open access to local communities. Attendance is open to all, with no tickets required.
Three appeals will be heard before the public on Tuesday, Nov. 14, between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., in Schneebeck Concert Hall, a short walk from Union Avenue and N. 14th Street.
In addition the public is invited, on Monday, Nov. 13, to join campus members and school groups at two panel discussions with the justices. The first, from 2–3 p.m., is on the topic “Free Speech and Activism: First Amendment for Whom?” and will be moderated by Seth Weinberger, professor of politics and government. The second, from 3:30–4:30 p.m., is “Young People and the Law,” and will be moderated by Diane Clarkson, president of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association. Seating at the event in Schneebeck Concert Hall will be on a first-come basis.
In Tuesday’s oral arguments before the court, the first case, from 9–9:40 a.m., involves a man who sued the Lyft ridesharing company after he received an unsolicited text on his phone. The second, from 9:55–10:35 a.m., involves a stroke victim and requires the court to determine if indecent exposure requires a motive of sexual gratification and how long after a person’s release from prison is “shortly after.” The justices are free to interrupt and ask questions of the attorneys at any time. At the end of the two hearings, the justices will engage in a Q&A with the audience until 11 a.m.
The third appeal, a drug case, considers a police officer’s protective sweep of an apartment, after the two officers were invited inside. Arguments will be made from 1:30–2:10 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Decisions on the cases will be delivered at a later time.
The visit is a valuable opportunity for the public, campus members, schools, and Puget Sound’s pre-law students to see justice in action. A number of the justices also will sit in on classes exploring topics ranging from ethics, to science, to foreign languages, to poetry.
Washington State Supreme Court, in 1995, became one of the first courts in the world to allow gavel-to-gavel coverage of its cases. The arguments of November 14 will be carried statewide by public cable television TVW.
For full details about the cases and to read the briefings, visit: courts.wa.gov/appellate_trial_courts/coaBriefs/index.cfm?fa=coabriefs.briefsByHearingDate&courtId=A08&year=2017
To learn more about Washington Supreme Court visit: courts.wa.gov/appellate_trial_courts/SupremeCourt/?fa=supremecourt.home
Press photos of Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst and the nine justices can be downloaded from pugetsound.edu/pressphotos.
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