Texas Supreme Court To Visit Baylor Law School April 3

  • News Photo 251
    The Texas Supreme Court made its historic visit to Baylor on Sept. 28, 1998, holding hearings in Morrison Constitution Hall, the former law school building.
  • News Photo 252
    The Texas Supreme Court made its historic visit to Baylor on Sept. 28, 1998, holding hearings in Morrison Constitution Hall, the former law school building.
March 13, 2002

by Alan Hunt

The nine justices of the Texas Supreme Court will convene Wednesday, April 3, at Baylor Law School's new home on the banks of the Brazos River, the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center. The court will hear arguments in two cases, each scheduled to last about 50 minutes, in the Jim Kronzer Appellate Advocacy Courtroom.

Members of the public are invited to attend the hearing in the octagonal-shaped courtroom, which features tiered seating designed to accommodate about 140 people. Other large classrooms in the law center will be used to provide overflow accommodation, with live video feeds on large screens from the courtroom.

Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben said the justices' visit is eagerly awaited by members of the law school community.

"It gives the students an opportunity to observe the protocol and proceedings of the court and to experience the unique atmosphere of a Supreme Court hearing," Toben said.

The Law School has previously hosted hearings by higher courts at its former home, Morrison Constitution Hall, including visits by the Texas Supreme Court in 1998 and by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on two prior occasions. The Kronzer courtroom in the new law center was specifically designed to accommodate visiting justices. The Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center, built at a cost of $33 million, was officially opened for classes on August 27, 2001.

The decision of the Texas Supreme Court -- the court of last resort for civil cases -- to sit outside Austin follows the passing in 1998 of a constitutional amendment allowing the justices to convene anywhere in the state. The amendment gives citizens a chance to observe a court session in their community, thereby broadening their understanding of the Texas judicial system. The Supreme Court justices, who include Baylor graduates Chief Justice Tom Phillips (BA 1971) and Justice Priscilla Owen (JD 1977), convened at Baylor Law School in 1998 on their first-ever trip outside Austin.

Since then, says John Adams, clerk of the court, the justices have convened at every law school in Texas, along with visits to various university campuses and high schools. Following their Baylor visit April 3, the justices will hold a hearing at the University of Texas at Tyler on April 16, and on April 17 they will convene at a high school in Longview.

Adams said the justices are looking forward to their first visit to Baylor's new Umphrey Law Center. "It is a beautiful facility," he said.

NOTICE TO MEDIA: In view of the Supreme Court's traditional restrictions on cameras and recording devices, Baylor's Public Relations office will provide the services of pool still and video photographers during the hearing. The digital still pictures will be posted at http:pr.baylor.edu for access by the media. The video footage will be provided by KWBU-TV through an audio/video mult-box. There will be limited reserved seating for reporters during the hearing.

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