Law students spend many hours each day pouring over the decisions handed down by top appellate courts, but rarely get to see, first-hand, how this law is made. That is not a problem for this crop of RWU Law students, because yesterday they could simply enter our courtroom and witness oral arguments in 5 cases docketed in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
Very few federal courts “go on the road,” and this rare experience was supplemented by the willingness of the presiding judges to return to the courtroom at the conclusion of the arguments to field questions in a session closed to the public, but open to our students--an opportunity unlike any I have ever heard of in my 30 years in legal education.
The panel—Chief Judge Sandra Lynch and Judges Bruce Selya and Rogeriee Thompson—proved to be a very “hot panel” for the lawyers, as questions often started flying as soon as the lawyers said “May it please the court.” And the array of issues presented was itself fascinating (the cases are summarized below) with two of the appeals coming in high visibility lower court cases, one the Narragansett “party house” case and the other civil rights claims by a group of Hispanic students caught in an ugly confrontation in Coventry.
Hundreds of students (not to mention dozens of lawyers and numerous representatives of the media) packed our courtroom and two overflow rooms with closed circuit feeds, and were treated to some excellent lawyers at the top of their game (and they had to be!). It was also more evidence of the important role RWU Law plays in the New England legal community.
Providence Journal Coverage