Court of Appeals, Western District, convenes at WWU
|4/9/2013||Mary Ann Beahon|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||(573) 592-1127|
William Woods University students had the opportunity to observe the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, in action when the court convened at WWU April 3.
Among the cases heard was one regarding whether a videotape deposition from the victim and letter of apology from the accused should have been allowed during a trial in which the defendant was charged with statutory sodomy in the first degree.
A three-judge panel, consisting of Gary Witt, Thomas Newton and Mark Pfeiffer, heard oral arguments in five cases in the Weitzman Model Courtroom in the Burton Business Building.
Chief Judge James Welsh explained that the cases were appeals from previously held trials in area circuit courts. The three judges recessed in between arguments to step down and discuss the court system and generally explain proceedings.
The judges heard attorneys argue whether the trials had errors, which should cause them to be retried, or the trial court's judgment reversed. The judges read written arguments before the court session and could interrupt the attorneys’ arguments with questions.
Cases heard included
- A liability settlement involving nursing home employees
- A solid waste contract
- An involuntary manslaughter charge
- Denial of a reciprocal veterinary license
This was the court’s 21st visit to the William Woods campus. The court convenes regularly in Kansas City. Its jurisdiction is appeals from trial courts in 45 counties, which include all of northwest Missouri and most of central Missouri.
Witt presided over the proceedings. He was appointed to the court of appeals in 2010. Before his appointment, he practiced law in Platte City, served in the Missouri House of Representatives and was an associate circuit judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit.
Newton was appointed to the court of appeals in 1999. Previously, he served as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Jackson County, an assistant United States attorney and as a circuit judge in the 16th Judicial Circuit.
Pfeiffer was appointed to the Western District in 2009. Before his appointment, he practiced law in Springfield and, later, Columbia.
During the past 21 years, the court has held sessions in Chillicothe, Clinton, Columbia, Fulton, Gallatin, Huntsville, Independence, Jefferson City, Keytesville, Kirksville, Lexington, Liberty, Linneus, Macon, Marshall, Maryville, Milan, Nevada, Platte City, Richmond, St. Joseph, Savannah, Trenton, Tuscumbia and Warrensburg.
"It is important for the court to convene oral arguments outside of Kansas City," Witt said. "This gives individuals an opportunity to observe a part of the judicial system they normally do not see. We hope those attending will gain a better understanding of the court's function.
Lawyers present their cases to justices of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District (left to right) Thomas Newton Gary Witt and Mark Pfeiffer. The court convened April 3 in William Woods University’s Weitzman Model Courtroom. The courtroom is also used by WWU legal studies students for mock trials and other educational endeavors. (Photos by Meghan Greenwalt)