The Kansas Court of Appeals heard four cases at the K-State Student Union on Tuesday, as a celebration of Constitution Day and to promote understanding of the legal system.
Constitution Day is a federal observance that recognizes the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.
The court session at Forum Hall started with Israel Manzano v. Kansas Department of Revenue, a case involving an administrative hearing for a DUI case. A group of about 15 people — half of them students — watched the arguments of the first case. Students trickled in and out to fit the event around their time schedule.
The judges asked questions of both sides during oral arguments concerning whether the revenue department gave enough time to the defense for a proper hearing.
“Trial judges experience that same frustration from time to time,” Court of Appeals Judge Patrick McAnany said at one point about time issues. “They toughen up and proceed and give the litigants the time they need to raise these issues.”
The court session was open to the public and included an opportunity for the audience to ask questions of the judge, as long as they were not related to the cases being heard.
Other arguments heard involved a murder appeal (Douglas Aldrich v. State of Kansas), another DUI case (State of Kansas v. Andrew Lynn Richmeier) and a tenure issue (Albert Romkes v. The University of Kansas).
“All of the cases we’ve selected have rights involved that will be of interest,” said Steve Leben, presiding judge for three cases Tuesday.
Riley County District Judge David Stutzman replaced Leben for the Romkes case because Leben, an adjunct professor at University of Kansas School of Law, voluntarily withdrew from the case.
Leben said the appeals court travels fairly regularly. Appeals court judges also heard cases at Wichita State and Washburn University on Tuesday.
“For Constitution Day, we want to expose the judicial system to as many people as possible,” Leben said. “A college campus is the best place to do that.”
Leben mentioned that K-State is a good venue because the university had events in coordination with the appearance.
The judges spoke to the constitutional law class and met with the mock trial team, Pre-Law Club and Riley County Bar Association on Monday.
Constitution Day activities are scheduled to conclude with the Dorothy L. Thompson Lecture Series presentation at 7 p.m. at the Alumni Center Ballroom. The lecture, “The Supreme Court Reconsiders the Voting Rights Act: Broken Law or Broken Promise,” is being given by Reginald Robinson, professor of law at Washburn Law School.
Daralyn Arata, pre-law advisor at K-State, said this was an excellent event to show how the justice system works.
“It’s really important for our electorate to be informed,” she said. “Things we want students to take away from this include rights provided in the constitution and how the court system works.”