The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland sat in the law school’s moot courtroom on March 2, marking the first time the court presided in the new law center. The occasion allowed first-year law students – who are taking a persuasive writing and advocacy class — to hear actual oral arguments before arguing their own, fictional cases in the spring.
The appeals were heard by a panel consisting of (above, left to right) Judges Robert Zarnoch, Alexander Wright and Kevin Arthur. Two of the cases argued were criminal appeals. In one, counsel addressed issues about the admissibility of hearsay evidence that linked the appellant to the crime. In another, counsel argued about whether the totality of evidence, including numerous texts from the appellant’s cell phone to the victim, was sufficient to convict the appellant.
The audience also heard an appeal from a trial court decision in a medical malpractice case. The issue concerned whether the trial court had erred in finding that a doctor was not an actual or apparent agent of the hospital, thus relieving the hospital of liability for the doctor’s actions.
After oral arguments, the judges took part in a question-and-answer session with law students. Questions touched on numerous topics, including how to write effective briefs, whether oral argument makes a difference in outcome, and how judges recognize their own bias in any particular case.