DAVIS — University of California, Davis Law School hosted appellate court hearings in the school’s King Hall last month, giving students and the public an opportunity to see how the judicial system works.
A panel of judges that included two University of California, Davis (UC) alumni, oversaw the hearings that were held in the hall by the 3rd District Court of Appeal. There were two cases heard by the three judges of the court, Justices Kathleen Butz, Louis Mauro and William Murray.
The first case involved a restaurant dispute where Edgar Ward Jones filed suit against Mammoth Lakes’ Whisky Creek Restaurants, which has since closed. Jones argued that the bar should have made an effort to ensure vandals could not remove a snow grate located on a deck of the facility. Jones’ complaint arose after he fell through the opening and was injured in 2011. A lower court had ruled in favor of the restaurant and Jones filed an appeal.
The second case was the People of the State of California v. the Superior Court of El Dorado County and the South Lake Tahoe Police Officers Association. It involved a 2015 law that banned grand juries in California from investigating fatal police shootings.
The El Dorado County district attorney argued that the law was unconstitutional. The lawyer claimed that he should be allowed to bring charges against the South Lake Tahoe police department following a shooting that killed Kris Jackson, 22, in 2015. However, the defendants argued that the attorney should charge the police officer rather than the police department.
During the day, the justices also made presentations about their careers and hosted a question-and-answer session.
“UC Davis School of Law has been fortunate enough to host the California Court of Appeals, the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit,” Dean Kevin R. Johnson told the Northern California Record. “Each time a working court visits, it is a unique opportunity for our students to see and experience the legal system at work. Just as important, our students have had the opportunity to interact with the justices in question-and-answer sessions.”
Johnson said this event was particularly memorable because of the school’s alumni involved.
“It was especially wonderful that the panel comprised alumni and friends of the law school: Justice Kathleen Butz from our Class of 1981, Justice Louis Mauro from the Class of 1987 and Justice William J. Murray Jr., a longtime supporter of UC Davis School of Law.”
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was the first appellate to use the facility at UC Davis in 2011. Since then, the Supreme Court and state appellate court have heard cases in it.
Johnson said the sessions were always well attended.
“We will continue to seek opportunities to host oral arguments and we welcome courts to UC Davis School of Law,” Johnson said. “Student attendance at the special court hearings is always strong. Members of the public often attend the events, as well. The sessions always require us to set up a viewing room for an overflow audience.”
The school is ranked 30th in the most recent U.S. News & World Report listing that looks at nearly 200 approved law schools. They have also been placed first by the same ranking organization when it comes to generosity of financial aid, according to the school’s website.
According to their website, the school was named for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was killed as the school of law finished its second year of teaching.