Students from Midland University and local high schools got an up-close look at the Nebraska judicial process as Midland served as host for the Nebraska Court of Appeals Thursday, Sept. 15th in Kimmel Theatre.
Nearly 200 students from six local high schools attended the session, with almost 100 students representing Midland during the event. Students were able to hear seven different cases during the morning and afternoon sessions.
“We were proud to be selected and serve as host for an important part of the judicial process,” Midland University President Jody Horner said. “We are grateful that so many students from Midland, and area high schools, had the opportunity to see these judges and attorneys in action. It was a great learning experience.”
The court session celebrated ten years of the Court of Appeals College Campus Initiative, which has allowed a variety of college campuses across the state to host the event. Midland also served as a host in 2015.
The Nebraska Court of Appeals is the state’s second-highest court and reviews appeals from state trial court decisions. A Nebraska Court of Appeals decision is final unless the Nebraska Supreme Court grants further review. The six judges on the Court of Appeals handle approximately 1,000 appeals annually.
Students were given detailed descriptions of each case to assist in understanding the legal arguments. All argument sessions, whether held in the Court of Appeals Courtroom or outside the State Capitol, are open to the public. Students heard cases ranging from child custody cases, relinquishment of parental rights, and land disputes.
Judge Mike Pirtle ‘75, serves as the Chief Judge for the Nebraska Court of Appeals and presided over the morning panel while Judge Francie Riedmann presided over the afternoon session. Other judges on the panel were David Arterburn, Riko Bishop, Larry Welch, and Frankie Moore.
At the end of each session, students were allowed to ask the panel of three judges various questions not pertaining to the particular cases, in which they could learn more about the judicial system and get a closer look at the career path of each judge.
Judge Arterburn spoke of how judges must make life-altering decisions that can impact individuals and their families. “You think of the difficult decisions that have to be made and how they can profoundly affect someone’s life,” he said. “I think we need to remember that even though we go through almost a thousand different cases each year, as they become routine to us, they are the most important cases in the world to the people involved.”