Texas Supreme Court to Make Historic Visit to Baylor

Sept. 24, 1998

by Alan Hunt

Baylor University School of Law will be the scene of a history-making visit by the Texas Supreme Court on Monday, Sept. 28, when the court convenes outside Austin for the first time in its 157-year history.

The court's visit to Baylor follows the passing last year of a constitutional amendment, allowing the justices to convene anywhere in the state. The amendment is designed to give citizens more access to the court, broadening their understanding of the Texas judicial system.

Dean Brad Toben said he is "thrilled" about the Supreme Court's visit, calling it a "wonderful learning experience" for law students. Toben said he campaigned early for the "first stop" privilege and told Baylor graduate Chief Justice Tom Phillips (1971 BA) that the Law School would be proud to host the justices' visit. Another Baylor graduate, Justice Priscilla Owen, who received her law degree from Baylor Law School in 1977, also serves on the Supreme Court.

The court will hear oral arguments in three cases and all will be open to the public on a space available basis. The first hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m., will involve MCI Telecommunications Corp. vs. Texas Utilities Electric Co. in a case dealing with right-of-way and third-party contract issues. The second case, centering on a dispute about the mayorship of Westlake, a Fort Worth suburb, will begin at approximately 11 a.m. The third argument, beginning at approximately 2 p.m., will involve American Home Assurance Co. vs. Billy Carl Stephens in a case focusing on public policy issues, contract interpretation and ethical questions.

The court will convene in the Law School's Wilford W. Naman Courtroom-the scene of numerous Practice Court hearings dating back nearly half a century. The platform in the courtroom has been extended to accommodate the nine justices, court officials and attorneys.

Seating in the Naman Courtroom will be on a first-come basis, and access to and from the courtroom will be restricted during the hearings. Live video feeds from the courtroom will be available for viewing in classrooms 120 and 105 at the law school.

In recent years, Baylor Law School has provided its students and members of the public the opportunity to "sit in" on a number of circuit court hearings-the most recent being the visit in April this year of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Cameras and audio recorders will not be permitted in the courtroom. However, a still photographer and a video photographer will be available on a "pool" basis to provide pictures of the court in session. The still photographs will include digital versions, available for downloading from the Baylor Public Relations website, http://pr.baylor.edu/. A limited amount of seating has been reserved for the media, but please let us know if you plan to attend so that we can accommodate you. Also, justices will not be available for interviews.

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