Baylor Law School Hosts the Supreme Court of Texas

  • Supreme Court
    Baylor Law School welcomed the nine Justices of the Supreme Court of Texas to the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center on March 30, 2016. (Baylor Law School)
  • Supreme Court Willett
    Justice Don Willett, B.B.A '88, (at right) answers questions from Baylor Law students during a Q&A session following oral arguments on March 30, 2016. (Baylor Law School)
  • Supreme Court Arguments
    Attorney Kristin Bays, J.D. '93, argues before the Supreme Court of Texas on March 30, 2016 at Baylor Law School. (Baylor Law School)
April 4, 2016

Media contact: Joshua Weaver, marketing and public relations specialist, Baylor Law School

WACO, Texas (April 4, 2016) - Baylor Law School welcomed the nine justices of the Supreme Court of Texas to the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center on March 30, 2016.

The standing-room-only crowd heard oral arguments for two contested cases.

"It is truly an honor to host the Justices and to provide our students, as well as members of the community, with a front-row seat to the highest court of Texas,” said Brad Toben, Dean of Baylor Law School.

As the Court of last resort for civil matters in Texas, the Supreme Court of Texas typically convenes in Austin, Texas, next to the State Capitol. However, a 1998 Texas constitutional amendment authorizes the Court to convene anywhere in the state of Texas. The purpose of the amendment is to demystify and to humanize the judicial branch of government by giving the public a chance to observe the Court first hand.

Baylor had the historic privilege of hosting the Court’s first-ever trip outside of Austin when the Supreme Court of Texas convened at Baylor Law School in 1998. The Law School has also hosted the Court in 2002 and 2007. The proceedings March 30, 2016, mark the fourth time the Court has convened at Baylor Law. Since 1998, the Supreme Court of Texas has held proceedings in law schools, universities, and even high school gymnasiums all across Texas.

"I'm the Court's lone Baylor grad, so I lobbied my colleagues pretty hard to return to Waco," said Justice Don Willett (B.B.A ’88), who also tweets about his daily life as a Supreme Court of Texas justice.

"The judiciary is utterly mysterious to most people. Folks know far more about their American Idol judges than their Supreme Court judges," Willett said. "I always love taking our show on the road. Anything we can do to boost awareness and acquaint people with the vital work of the judiciary is a rich civic good."

The first case, listed by the Court as Texas Department of Insurance, Workers’ Compensation Division v. Bonnie Jones and American Home Insurance Co., was a question of statutory interpretation in a workers-compensation case.

In the second case, Benton Stanfield v. Jon T. Neubaum and Barbara Neubaum, Baylor Lawyers Sam Houston (J.D. '87) and Kristin Bays (J.D. '93) squared off over an issue in a legal malpractice case.

"It was a thrill and an honor to argue at Baylor Law School before our state's highest court,” Houston said. “I was especially honored to argue against Kristin, another Baylor Lawyer."

"I'm confident we both presented our arguments in a manner which will help the Court reach a just result. At Baylor Law School, you are prepared to advocate zealously, but to also maintain professionalism and respect for your opponent," Houston said.

In the coming months, the justices will convene and discuss the arguments heard at Baylor Law School. The justices will select one among themselves to draft the majority opinion, any dissenters will circulate their opinions, and after many rounds of editing and conferring, the Court will issue its holdings on these two cases.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

ABOUT BAYLOR LAW SCHOOL

Established in 1857, Baylor Law School was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,200 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law School has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law’s trial advocacy program as #4 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked No. 51 in the magazine’s 2015 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law in its top 10 law schools for practical training, and second best value in private legal education in the nation. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Learn more at www.baylor.edu/law.

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