TERRE HAUTE —
The law came to Indiana State University on Thursday.
The Indiana Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in an actual case before an audience of dozens of ISU legal studies, political science and other students in what has become an annual tradition at the university.
A three-judge panel, which is how the Court of Appeals hears cases, listened to arguments in a case involving the Indiana Department of Child Services and the removal of a child considered a “child in need of service,” or CHINS.
The case stemmed from an incident that took place more than a decade ago.
Thursday’s court session, which took place in the Hulman Memorial Student Union building, was literally a mobile version of the state’s court of appeals. A bailiff was present, those in attendance were asked to “all rise” when the judges entered the room and a series of green, yellow and red lights let attorneys know how much time they had remaining in their 20 minutes of oral arguments.
“It gives you a real world example of how a case actually progresses,” said Cortino Allen, a senior legal studies major at ISU who hopes to someday take his place on a judicial bench. Allen is writing a paper on jury selection and had several questions for the judges at the conclusion of the 40-minute hearing.
Other students were also permitted to ask questions — just not about Thursday’s case. One of the three attorneys representing DCS also spoke to the students as did Mike Wilkins of Indianapolis, the attorney for the plaintiff.
Arguing before a court of appeals is much different than arguing a case in a trial court, Wilkins said after the hearing. In a trial court, attorneys get to ask the questions of witnesses about facts in the case. In an appeals court, the judges ask the questions of the attorney about points of law.
“It is a lot different,” Wilkins said. “You definitely feel like you have to be more on your game.”
Those hearing the case were Judge Margret Robb, Judge Cale Bradford and the court’s newest appointee, Rudolph Pyle. The governor appoints members of the Indiana Court of Appeals. The judges are then subject to retention elections to maintain their positions.
The attorney for DCS seemed to be getting some of the toughest questioning. At one point, Judge Robb told the DCS attorney he was “mixing apples and oranges.” At another point she halted one of his answers saying: “That’s not what I asked.”
After the hearing, Robb told the students to draw no conclusions about how they will rule based on their questions. Wilkins, who has argued several cases before appellate judges, agreed.
“I don’t have the slightest idea” how they will rule, Wilkins said after the hearing. “I have one intuition, I’m not going to share it … I could kind of see it in one of their eyes, I thought I saw something.”
In some cases the judges asking the hardest questions are actually on your side, Wilkins said. But in Thursday’s hearing, the judges gave away few clues.
“I didn’t pick any of that stuff up today,” he said.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERRE HAUTE —
The law came to Indiana State University on Thursday.
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