Utah Supreme Court hears arguments at BYU


Five Utah Supreme Court justices were escorted to the J. Reuben Clark building’s Moot Courtroom by a Utah Highway Patrol officer Wednesday morning.

Students were able to observe a session of the Utah Supreme Court. Attorneys for two court cases presented their arguments to the panel of judges. Judges then asked attorneys questions and posed hypothetical situations.

“It was awesome to see how it works, to see how they argued in front of the Supreme Court,” said Chase Hansen, a first-year law student. “It’s kind of cool to study the law and see them actually apply it in real-life situations.”

The justices in attendance were Chief Justice Christine M. Durham, Associate Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant, Justice Thomas R. Lee, Justice Ronald E. Nehring and Justice Jill N. Parrish. For some students, watching the court in session allowed them to understand why their professors teach the way they do.

“That was the first time that I’d had the opportunity to watch that type of dialogue between an attorney and a panel of judges,” said Eric Williams, a first-year law student. “I was really impressed with the way that BYU teaches in class because we have to have that type of discourse with our professor.”

The first year of law school is a difficult year for most law students.

“I was impressed to see that what I’m doing in class is going to pay off,” Williams said.

Dee Benson, a federal judge and adjunct professor at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, said how helpful it is for students to have experiences like this event.

Benson said students are able to hear what questions judges will ask attorneys, as well see as the mannerisms and style of the attorneys.

“Just like a little kid who wants to play football goes and watches BYU play football and gets an idea, this is how they do it at a higher level,” Benson said.

One of the cases concerned a man who shot his wife in a church parking lot. Their children are suing the health-care provider that issued a variety of prescription medications to their father. The other case dealt with the parents of a St. George High School student who was killed while practicing for a play with a pistol that was supposed to be a prop.

The Utah Supreme Court holds a session at the J. Reuben Clark Building annually.

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