Conn. Supreme Court to hear cases at Law School today

There’s nothing moot about the court that will convene at Yale Law School this morning.

The Connecticut Supreme Court will set up shop in the Law School auditorium today as the latest stop in an ongoing program that takes the Court on the road to universities and high schools across the state.

The court will hear one criminal and one civil case. When the justices are done questioning the attorneys, the law students and others in the audience will get their turn.

The Court’s tour, started in 1986, has visited Yale twice before. Each year, the stops (typically two) are decided by the justices themselves and then coordinated with the host institutions, said judicial branch spokesman James Senich.

This year, once again, Yale Law School made the list. The Law School and the Court have been working together since January to set the date, Law School spokeswoman Jan Conroy said.

Remarks by retired chief justice Ellen Ash Peters LAW ’54 will kick off Friday’s program at 9:30 a.m. Then, following a faculty reception for the justices, oral arguments will be heard at 10 a.m. in the criminal case, State v. Lawrence Smith, about whether the defendant’s rights to due process were violated during his murder trial.

Arguments in the civil case, St. Joseph Living Center, Inc. v. Town of Windham, begin at noon. The case has to do with whether a nursing facility and chapel should be tax exempt.

Question-and-answer sessions after each case will give audience members a chance to participate in the event, which all first-year law students will attend.

Dean Harold Hongju Koh said in an interview the event is an opportunity to “teach our students in the first days of their legal career that their classroom is the courtroom. The concepts of substantive and procedural law that they have learned in the first weeks of school are playing out in real cases involving real people who live in this community.”

On the bench sit two former visiting clinical professors, justices Joette Katz and Richard Palmer, and one alumnus, Justice Barry Schaller ’63.

Though subject to tight security, the event is open to the public.

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