Court of Appeals Celebrates Constitution Day in Omaha

Court of Appeals Celebrates Constitution Day in Omaha

Court of Appeals Celebrates Constitution Day in Omaha

The University of Nebraska – Omaha’s (UNO) Milo Bail Student Center was filled with college and Omaha area high school students as the Nebraska Court of Appeals prepared to celebrate Constitution Day.

In commemoration of events on September 17, 1787, the Nebraska Court of Appeals took their “College Campus Initiative” to the UNO campus on Friday, September 15, 2023. Court of Appeals judges divided themselves into their customary morning and afternoon panels, each comprised of three judges, to hear argument sessions with two cases each.

The morning began with Chief Judge Mike Pirtle of Omaha presiding over the initial panel. The afternoon session was led by Judge Riko Bishop, representing Appellate Court District 1 (Lincoln).

The brainchild of the Court of Appeals judges, this initiative was crafted to provide Nebraskans, especially college and high school students, with a firsthand understanding of the workings of the judicial branch.

Prior to the proceedings, Nebraska State Bar Foundation representatives, Robert Mullin and Ron Krause, provided background information to students regarding the origins of Constitution Day and the path that cases take to get to the appellate court system. Detailed descriptions of each case were provided to the students, aiding in their comprehension of the legal arguments presented.

Following the cases, the floor was opened to questions and answers, allowing the students to engage with the judges and gain valuable insights into the legal process.

Student ambassadors for the day’s arguments were UNO’s Underserved Law Opportunities Program (ULOP) students, led by Dr. Troy Romero. ULOP is an academic and career pipeline program between UNO and the Nebraska College of Law, designed to encourage more students from underrepresented communities to pursue legal education.

In a program follow-up, Romero noted, “I had a wonderful discussion yesterday with my students who attended the hearings,” noting that the luncheon for the judges and ULOP students was phenomenal. He added, “It was a pleasure to see the interactions and connections,” and all around, it was “a wonderful experience.”

The evening before arguments, the State Bar Foundation hosted a Constitution Day celebration for the legal community.  Foundation Vice President Sharon Kresha and Chief Judge Mike Pirtle welcomed attendees shortly before John Adams (AKA Executive Director of the Omaha Bar Association Dave Sommers) and Omaha Bar President Andy Wilson peppered the crowd with questions relating to the signing of the Constitution.  Those who answered questions accurately were tossed candy bars by Bar Foundation Executive Director Doris Huffman.  The evening ended with no injuries and a greater appreciation for history and those who founded the United States.

The Nebraska State Court of Appeals instituted a community outreach and education program known as the “College Campus Initiative” in 2012. The court annually holds argument sessions on college campuses throughout Nebraska as a way of bringing the judicial branch to young people. The program is supported by the Nebraska State Bar Foundation.

Photo - Court of Appeals judge with their Constitution Day quizmasters: David Arterburn, Lawrence Welch,  Riko Bishop, Frankie Moore, Michael Pirtle,  Omaha Bar President Andy Wilson, Francie Riedmann, and Executive Director of the Omaha Bar Association Dave Sommers as John Adams.