Second Court of Appeals hold court at Akin Auditorium

The Second Court of Appeals presided over two cases on Oct. 12 at Akin Auditorium for students and the general public to experience proceedings in appeals court that are usually held in Fort Worth, Texas.

“This is a chance for us to get out and participate in the educational process, but also just to give people a chance to come out and see what goes on in an appellant court,” Justice Mike Wallach said. “This is a way we can bring what we do to the public and everyone can see what we do.”

The Second Court of Appeals holds court in other counties within its jurisdiction when there is an opportunity. This allows others to observe appellate arguments and other counties to witness court structure without having to drive to another city. The Fall 2021 “Speakers & Issues Series,” which is co-sponsored by the department of political science, allowed students a chance to see the court in action.

“We are really excited for students to see appellant court at MSU. Judge Wallach approached us to join the student series and we are thrilled to have the justices here so our students have the opportunity to see an appellant court in action,” Linda Veazey, chair and associate professor of political science, said. “By bringing the court here to MSU, we’re showing students something that they don’t get to see very often.”

The Second Court of Appeals presides over civil and criminal appeals from trial courts in 12 north central Texas counties: Archer, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Hood, Jack, Montague, Parker, Tarrant, Wichita, Wise and Young. The court hears most cases in three-judge panels. The justices on Oct. 12 included Justice Elizabeth Kerr, Justice Mike Wallach and Justice Brian Walker.

“This court is based in Fort Worth, so it would take a lot for students here at MSU Texas to be able to go see this, but today they brought this here,” Veazey said. “One of the missions of the court, obviously, is to let citizens know about how the legal system works.”

Two cases were heard that included two entities based in Wichita County. The first case involved an eviction conflict with the Wichita Falls Housing Authority and the second case was regarding Kell Auto Sales, Inc., an auto car lot based in Wichita Falls. The Court brought the cases to Wichita Falls that made it convenient for all parties, attorneys and the public.

“Usually, people come to Fort Worth to argue cases, but as I said we really like to get on the road when we can, and so today, we are very happy to argue two of our cases here,” Kerr said. “We hear appeals of every type of cases: civil, criminal, family disputes and termination of parental rights. Everything except death penalty cases, which goes straight to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, that is the equivalent of Texas Supreme Court.”

Following the proceedings, the justices took questions from students concerning the court organization for appeals and questions about law school. The chance for students to learn from a real court setting about real cases from our own city gave students a rare opportunity to witness something different.

“These cases are based here from Wichita Falls, so learning something different than regular class lets students know what will happen in an eviction case,” Veazey said. “You can see in the first case, they were arguing over what may seem to an outsider very minute details the meaning of certain words; what was meant in a statute, but this is what’s going to give people in a future case as how to interpret and why they’re making these decisions.”