William & Mary Law School hosted the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on March 20, allowing students to witness the appellate process during the course of a regular morning of classes. The event marked the third time the Court has held oral argument at the Law School.
“This was a marvelous opportunity for our students,” said Dean and Hanson Professor of Law Davison M. Douglas. “We are deeply appreciative that the Court accepted our invitation to hold the day’s session at the Law School.”
A panel of three Fourth Circuit judges presided over the proceedings, hearing oral arguments in three cases involving Fourth Amendment, criminal, and civil rights matters. Students filled the Law School’s McGlothlin Courtroom and studied the process intently.
“The best part about having the Fourth Circuit sit at the Law School was that it provided a unique opportunity to see real appellate advocacy without leaving the school building,” said law student Alexandra Klein ’14.
“To be able to sit in on a Fourth Circuit argument between classes was fantastic,” Klein continued. “Because it was so accessible, students who otherwise might not have an opportunity to see the court sit in Richmond were able to experience the excitement of appellate argument in our own McGlothlin Courtroom.”
As a member of the moot court team interested in appellate advocacy, Klein considers the event one of many highlights during her three years of law school.
“I particularly enjoyed seeing how the judges engaged with the attorneys over the course of three arguments because it gave me a more realistic sense of what it would be like to practice at the appellate level,” she said.
After the arguments concluded, the judges took questions from the students in attendance.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit hears appeals from the nine federal district courts in the states of Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia and from federal administrative agencies. Although it hears oral argument at regularly scheduled sessions in Richmond, Va., the court also hears arguments at various law schools within the circuit on a periodic basis.
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