POPLARVILLE – A three-judge panel of the Mississippi Court of Appeals listened to oral arguments Wednesday, Sept. 24, at Pearl River Community College.
The Court on the Road program convened at the Ethel Holden Brownstone Center for the Arts on the Poplarville campus, the first of three stops this fall.
The judges heard oral arguments on the appeal of a felony DUI case from Marion County Circuit Court. Before the arguments began, Chief Justice Joe Lee explained that the judges had already studied transcripts of the trial along with written arguments and that a decision would not be made for several weeks.
Following the hearing, the judges removed their robes and returned to the stage to take questions from the audience.
“People don’t realize there’s so much that goes on beyond the scenes,” said psychology major James Montgomery from Columbia. “It makes me believe a little bit more in the system. A lot of people, especially the younger people, don’t realize they have a voice.”
In response to a question, each of the judges told the audience what they feel they brought to the court when they were sworn into the office.
The practical experience of 40 years as a trial lawyer and everyday life are among his assets, said Lee, who attended Pearl River.
“I know what goes on in a courtroom,” he said. “When I’m reading a transcript, I can put myself in the room.”
Her years as a defense attorney, prosecutor and military attorney help Judge Virginia Carlton of Columbia maintain perspective, she said.
“I brought a sense of balance to the table,” Carlton said.
Judge Gene Fair of Hattiesburg also referred to his years of experience in private practice as the foundation of his judicial work.
“Lawyers are real lucky in that every day they get to deal with different people, different situations,” he said. “It’s the breadth of experience.”
The hearing was the first time Court on the Road came to PRCC.
“This was a good way to show students that PRCC is broad,” said social work major Michaela Andrews of Foxworth, Student Government Association president. “We got lots of insight. It’s good for PRCC to let us see this.”
The hearing gave students an opportunity few receive, especially through the question-and-answer period, said political science and history instructor Jason Ramshur.
“I hope they got a clearer understanding of how the legal system works,” Ramshur said. “A lot of them hit the very basics of the legal system.”
The Court on the Road program will be at the University of Southern Mississippi on Nov. 14 and at Mississippi State University on Nov. 18.
Court of Appeals Judge Gene Fair was guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Poplarville on Sept. 24 before the court heard an appeal at Pearl River Community College as part of the Court on the Road program.
PRCC Public Relations photo
A three-judge panel of the Mississippi Court of Appeals listens to oral arguments Sept. 24, at the Ethel Holden Brownstone Center for the Arts at Pearl River Community College. The judges are, from left, Virginia Carlton, Chief Judge Joe Lee and Gene Fair. The session was part of the Court on the Road program and included a question-and-answer period after the hearing.
PRCC Public Relations photo