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Former Texas Supreme Court chief justices argue case at Blinn College-Bryan

This marks the fifth consecutive year the Texas 10th Court of Appeals has held session at Blinn

November 2, 2016

The Texas 10th Court of Appeals made history while it held session at the Blinn College-Bryan Campus on Wednesday.

For the first time, two former chief justices of the Texas Supreme Court argued a case, as Tom Phillips and Wallace Jefferson represented opposing sides in McDonald’s Restaurants of Texas, Inc., McDonald’s USA, LLC, and McDonald’s Corporation v. William Paul Crisp, Jr. and J. Nicole Crisp, Individually and as Representatives of the Estate of Lauren Bailey Crisp, and Denise Whitaker, Individually and as Representative of the Estate of Denton James Ward. The case centers around the point at which a private business owner can be held responsible for criminal acts others commit on its property.

The case was heard on the Blinn College-Bryan Campus before an audience of students, faculty, and members of the Bryan-College Station community. This marked the fifth consecutive year the court has held session at Blinn as part of a campaign to educate the public about the role of appellate courts in the justice system.

“Seeing the court in action gives our students a first-hand look at how our legal system and the appellate court system work,” said Robert Stanberry, Paralegal and Legal Studies Program Coordinator. “As a result of these visits, hundreds of Blinn students have had the opportunity to not only see a real court in action, but have watched proceedings that establish precedent for future legal cases.”

PHOTO – Texas 10th Court of Appeals Chief Justice Tom Gray and Justices Rex Davis and Al Scoggins take a photo alongside members of Blinn College’s Legal Assistant Student Organization.
 

The Texas 10th Court of Appeals, consisting of Chief Justice Tom Gray and Justices Rex Davis and Al Scoggins, is based in Waco and hears civil and criminal appeals from 18 counties in Central Texas, including Brazos County. The court’s 2012 visit to Blinn was its first in more than a decade, and the event’s success each of the last four years has inspired the court to return.

“We want to make it as easy and accessible for the public as possible,” Chief Justice Tom Gray said. “The purpose of holding oral arguments in this setting is to educate the public about what we do.”

Other cases heard Wednesday include Julian Christopher Ferguson v. The State of Texas; Erric Bernard Portis, Jr. v. The State of Texas; and Robert Allen Workman, Jr. v. The State of Texas. Case information can be found at: www.search.txcourts.gov/submission.aspx?coa=coa10.

The justices will now return to Waco, where they will research the legal issues and precedents, then issue a written opinion.

The event is hosted by Blinn’s Paralegal and Legal Studies Program and the Legal Assistant Student Organization. Blinn’s Paralegal Program equips students for a variety of law careers with an Associate in Applied Science degree or a Legal Office Certificate. Courses are taught by a faculty comprised entirely of lawyers and judges whose classes are structured to promote quality student-faculty interaction. Students completing the AAS degree are eligible to sit for the National Association of Legal Assistants certification exam, and majors in the program join the Legal Assistant Student Organization.

Paralegals assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services, performing duties that include attending trials, assisting in testimony preparation, locating and interviewing witnesses, conducting client interviews and conducting investigations and research. Their role is expanding as companies look to hire employees with a broad understanding of legal matters. This proves helpful during purchases, personnel matters, risk management, customer relations and contract negotiations.

For more information on Blinn’s Paralegal Program, visit: www.blinn.edu/twe/legal.