The Alabama Supreme Court held an open hearing on Troy’s campus that was the first such event here since 1991, according to a University Relations press release.
The Supreme Court typically holds two traveling hearings a year, one of which was held Wednesday morning, providing Troy University students and community an opportunity to have a firsthand look inside state government.
Before the proceeding began, Chancellor Jack Hawkins referenced a quote from Winston Churchill about failing to learn from history, which leads to being doomed to repeat it.
“Pay attention,” Hawkins said. “You can draw a lot of lessons from what you hear today.”
Six of the nine justices of the highest court in the state were sitting in Claudia Crosby Theater in Smith Hall on Troy’s campus as two cases were presented.
Justice Tom Parker said he remembers his experience seeing an oral argument for the first time and hopes to motivate students the same way he was once motivated.
“We hope that it (the hearing) will educate students about the judicial process and inspire some to become involved in it,” Parker said in an interview with the Tropolitan.
“People learn by actually experiencing things,” Chief Justice Lyn Stuart said.
“They’ll (attendees will) have the opportunity to watch oral argument and will learn from practical experience by being there.”
The first case involved a malpractice issue raised against HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Gadsden regarding an elderly patient, who was allegedly given opioids, eventually leading to her death.
Each of the lawyers discussed definitions regarding standard of care, an investigation conducted by HealthSouth, the type of liability involved and the $20 million restitution for the plaintiff.
The second case addressed whether the murder of a man’s pregnant wife is considered as one or two murders if a woman with child is killed.
The lawyers discussed the intent of the murder, including the defense attorney who said that the husband did not have the intent to kill his wife and unborn baby, and it thus cannot be considered a capital murder case.
At this time, a verdict was not determined for either case.
Prior to the hearing, a reception was held on Tuesday night in the International Arts Center to welcome the members of the Court and the lawyers delivering oral arguments.
At the reception, court justices told the Tropolitan why Troy students should pay attention to their local governments.
“Local government is the foundation of this whole country,” Justice William Sellers said. “Cities and counties are the building block of how governments operate.
“People should be involved in their city government because it’s local and touches everything they do. It’s what people ought to do to be good citizens.”
Justice Tommy Bryan, a Troy alumnus with two education degrees from Troy, said students should care.
“Local government affects everyone,” Bryan said. “Get involved, and get involved early.”