Students hear Court of Appeals case
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 01:09
On Wednesday morning, an Indiana family brought their case before the Indiana Court of Appeals as ISU students and faculty watched.
The original trial case involved a 4-year-old girl, K.L., who was removed from her mother’s home early on due to behavioral issues. Tippecanoe County Department of Child Services (DCS) placed K.L. in the care of her father’s sister and brother-in-law, Ann and Glen Black.
In March 2010, however, DCS removed the girl from their residence without warning or a court order, citing a 20-year-old child abuse complaint against Glen Black. K.L.’s family sued DCS, but the trial court dismissed seven of the lawsuit’s eight counts, asserting that DCS had “quasi-judicial immunity.” In addition, the trial court ruled that the family, excluding the girl’s father, “lacked standing to sue” in the first place.
Unlike a trial court, which is primarily concerned with innocence or guilt, attorneys Mike Wilkins and Justin Roebel were focused on the application of civil law, Bob VanSickel, professor of legal studies and political science said, prior to the hearing.
Once Wilkins and Roebel concluded their arguments, they, along with Chief Judge Margret Robb and judges Cole Bradford and Rudolph Pyle, held a question and answer session with the audience.
Inquiries couldn’t relate to the case itself, but participants elaborated on their individual histories, the judicial process and the preparations required for an appeal hearing.
Junior Will Moore was among the many political science majors in attendance said that any student, regardless of concentration, could benefit from going to see the appellate court.
“A lot of students think there’s only trial court,” he said, adding that the misconception often comes from the television and film industry.
VanSickel agreed, stressing that the opportunity to witness an appeal court hearing is “hugely important” because it gives students a more realistic idea of how the judicial system operates.
ISU was the 17th site in the 2012 Court of Appeals of Indiana’s Traveling Arguments tour. According to their website, oral arguments are normally held in the Indiana Statehouse, but are occasionally brought to educational institutions across the state to “enable Hoosiers to learn about the judicial branch.”
The annual visit from the court drew a large crowd of students, but VanSickel thought the turnout could improve next year.
“I really wish more students would come,” he said.