The state’s “traveling court” will hear three appeals, followed by an audience Q&A with the justices
The public is invited to observe the Washington Supreme Court in action, as three legal cases are argued by opposing attorneys on stage at University of Puget Sound. The cases are being heard live in Tacoma so the public has a chance to observe the justice system in action, and so people can take the rare opportunity to pose questions to the nine justices. The “traveling court” is part of the Supreme Court’s policy of providing open access to local communities. Attendance is open to all, with no tickets required.
Three appeals will be heard before the public on Tuesday, Nov. 14, between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., in Schneebeck Concert Hall, a short walk from Union Avenue and N. 14th Street.
In addition the public is invited, on Monday, Nov. 13, to join campus members and school groups at two panel discussions with the justices. The first, from 2–3 p.m., is on the topic “Free Speech and Activism: First Amendment for Whom?” and will be moderated by Seth Weinberger, professor of politics and government. The second, from 3:30–4:30 p.m., is “Young People and the Law” and will be moderated by Tiffany Davis, associate director of diversity and inclusion. Seating at the event in Schneebeck Concert Hall will be on a first-come basis.
In Tuesday’s oral arguments before the court, the first case, from 9–9:40 a.m., involves a man who sued the Lyft ridesharing company after he received an unsolicited text on his phone. The second, from 9:55–10:35 a.m., involves a stroke victim and requires the court to determine if indecent exposure requires a motive of sexual gratification and how long after a person’s release from prison is “shortly after.” The justices are free to interrupt and ask questions of the attorneys at any time. At the end of the two hearings, the justices will engage in a Q&A with the audience until 11 a.m.
The third appeal, a drug case, considers a police officer’s protective sweep of an apartment, after the two officers were invited inside. Arguments will be made from 1:30–2:10 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Decisions on the cases will be delivered at a later time.
The visit is a valuable opportunity for the public, campus members, schools, and Puget Sound’s pre-law students to see justice in action. A number of the justices also will sit in on classes exploring topics ranging from ethics, to science, to foreign languages, to poetry.
Washington State Supreme Court, in 1995, became one of the first courts in the world to allow gavel-to-gavel coverage of its cases. The arguments of November 14 will be carried statewide by public cable television TVW.
For full details about the cases and to read the briefings, visit: https://www.courts.wa.gov/appellate_trial_courts/coaBriefs/index.cfm?fa=coabriefs.briefsByHearingDate&courtId=A08&year=2017
To learn more about Washington Supreme Court visit:
For directions and a map of the University of Puget Sound campus: www.pugetsound.edu/directions
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– University of Puget Sound
About our Supreme Court: The state’s “court of last resort” is asked to review more than a thousand cases each year. Most come from the state Court of Appeals, though cases can be appealed directly from Superior Court. In the Supreme Court, no witnesses are called or other evidence taken. Rather, the Court hears only legal issues, and decides the case based on the factual record developed in the trial court.
The Court has discretion in deciding which cases to review. In a case already decided by the Court of Appeals, the Court will generally grant review only if it involves a question which has given rise to conflicting appellate court decisions, an important constitutional question, or a question of substantial public importance. Direct review of Superior Court decisions is granted in limited circumstances.
During each four month session the Court hears oral argument in approximately 45 cases. Responsibility for authoring opinions is distributed equally among the justices. At least five of the nine Justices have to agree to decide a case. Frequently, justices write opinions which concur (agree) with or dissent (disagree) from the majority opinion. The Court’s opinions are published by Mathew Bender & Company, Inc. (LexisNexis), and are available, for a fee, to the public or can be read in the State and/or County Law Libraries at no cost. You can learn more about the history of our State Supreme Court here: http://www.courts.wa.gov/education/?fa=education.supreme.
The current justices are (pictured above, from left to right): Justice Susan Owens, Justice Sheryl Mccloud, Associate Chief Justice Charles W. Johnson, Justice Charles K. Wiggins, Chief Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, Justice Steven C. González, Justice Barbara Madsen, Justice Mary I. Yu, Justice Debra L. Stephens.