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September 23, 2010

ULM hosts Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeals

University of Louisiana at Monroe students enjoyed a interesting peek into Louisiana’s legal system on Tuesday, Sept. 22, as the state’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals held a session at ULM’s Brown Auditorium.

Attorneys argued for and against defendants in two cases, one civil and one a combined criminal case. The event provided an excellent opportunity for judges and other officials to interact with ULM faculty, students and staff, as well as the public at large, since area high school students were also invited to attend.

“For a person considering entering a career in law, for example, what better classroom could we offer than this?” said Associate Professor John Sutherlin, whose political science students attended the session in lieu of their regular class meeting.

A three-judge panel that included Judge Felicia Toney Williams, Judge D. Milton Moore III and Judge John Larry Lolley, a ULM alum, presided over the session.

Although the Second Circuit Court of Appeal is anchored in Shreveport, each judge mentioned his or her specific tie to northeast Louisiana and desire to reach out to parishes outside of Caddo as part of an ongoing effort to educate students and the general public about the work of Louisiana’s appellate courts.

“We’re very glad to be here with you all today,” said Lolley. “We feel it is important to show you what the circuit court does. We take a person’s civil liberty and rights very serious.”

Moving the court session to other geographical locations also aids attorneys and their clients who sometimes must travel further to attend court when it is held in Shreveport.

Lolley explained that the Second Circuit Court is the state’s largest, covering 20 parishes and stretching across the northern part of the state from the Mississippi River to the Texas border. Yet the work of the court often goes unnoticed, according to Moore, a graduate of Neville High School in Monroe.

“Our court is often the last resort for a person who appeals a lower court’s decision, since so few cases reach the state Supreme Court,” he said.

There are a total of nine judges who preside on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Williams, Moore and Lolley were each elected to represent different sections of District One, which covers Ouachita and seven other northeast Louisiana parishes.

“Sometimes we just like to come home to Monroe,” said Lolley, with a smile.

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