Court of Appeals Hears Arguments at Wayne State College

Court of Appeals Hears Arguments at Wayne State College

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Court of Appeals heard three cases during each of their argument sessions at the Wayne State Student Center on September 16, 2021. Judges dedicate their September College Campus Initiative session to the celebration of Constitution Day each year. Constitution Day is September 17 and is celebrated throughout the month. Judges for the morning panel were Chief Judge Michael Pirtle, Judge Frankie Moore, and Judge Larry Welch. The afternoon session was presided over by Judge Francie Riedmann, who was joined by Judge Dave Arterburn. Judge Riko Bishop participated on briefs.

In the audience were Rural Law Opportunity Program (RLOP) and political science students and from Wayne State. Visiting high schools included Hartington-Newcastle Public Schools, Plainview Public Schools, Laurel-Concord-Coleridge High School, Norfolk Public Schools, Lyons-Decatur Northeast, and South Sioux City High School.

Before each session, local retired judge Robert Ensz provided background information for each court session, and Associate Professor of Political Science Brian Hansen introduced the celebration of Constitution Day.

Judge Michael Pirtle sat for private interviews with Wayne State College student journalists before and during the argument session. When asked about the most important element of the Court of Appeals presenting arguments in schools, Judge Pirtle replied: 

“My hope is those in attendance will leave with a better understanding of our court system and why the appellate courts are an important and integral part of our system of justice, ensuring that all parties are treated fairly and have the opportunity to be fully heard.” 

Following tradition, judges held an open question and answer period after each argument session. Additionally, the judges spent their lunch hour with RLOP students, introducing themselves and discussing their paths to the bench.

This college campus initiative, designed by judges of the Court of Appeals, is intended to provide Nebraskans the opportunity to learn about the judicial branch. The Court has been holding arguments at colleges statewide since September 2012. 

In a statement to the Wayne Stater newspaper, Judge Pirtle noted, “Our College Campus Initiative was designed to expose college and high school students to the Judicial Branch of government, often referred to as ‘the forgotten branch of government.’ After observing an appellate court in action and getting to ask the judges questions, I would hope the students would come away with a better understanding of, and appreciation for, how the courts operate in Nebraska.”  

The Court of Appeals of Nebraska is the state’s second-highest Court and reviews appeals from state trial court decisions. The six judges on the Court of Appeals handle and dispose of just under 1,000 cases per year. A decision of the Nebraska Court of Appeals is final unless granted further review by the Nebraska Supreme Court.