Kansas Court of Appeals’ visit inspires pre-law students

By: Cathryn Cavazos  – Sterling, KS. — Nov. 18, 2017, 9:07 P.M.

“When you spend your days leafing through countless textbooks, it’s easy to forget that there’s more to the law than lengthy judgments and academic viewpoints,” says the website The Guardian in regards to law students. “Those cases you read…are about things that happened to real people, and there are few better things you can do as a student than going to court and watching the law in action.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the Sterling College Criminal Justice department allowed students to get out of a typical lecture and be immersive in actual court proceedings.

There were two sessions at 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. held in Heritage Hall. The students who participated got to hear oral arguments from five different cases including, according to the Hutchinson News, “ a $20 million probate case out of Ellis County the court there found involved fraud, and a sex crime conviction in Finney County.”

There were three arguments during the first session, and two during the second. According to the Hutchinson News, all the cases have been to trial but have been appealed.

Judges Kathryn Garner, Michael Buser, and Gordon Atcheson presided over the hearing. For Garner, it was a “pleasure” to return to Sterling. According to the Hutchinson News, “Garner, the presiding judge for the panel, was born in Sterling and attended Sterling College, as did her daughters, Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah Garner, as well as her parents, Joe and Roberta McFarland, and their parents.” Garner always enjoys coming back and experiencing the hospitality of Sterling College.

Not only were students from the College able to attend the hearings, students from the local high school as well as residents of the town were invited to sit in. After the sessions, the judges were able to answer questions about the proceedings.

After the first session, criminal justice students were invited to attend a lunch with the judges and ask more questions about their professions.

Estephany Monocada, junior and criminal justice major, said that the court trials were so “intriguing.”

“I marveled at the fact that the Appellate Court Judges were able to deal with cases that included laws that differed from one another,” she said. “It makes me appreciate the law, because someday it will be in my power to defend future victims. It further inspired me to be a good steward of my studies in law.”