Today@Sam Article

Appeals Court To Hold Arguments At SHSU For Fifth Year

March 27, 2015
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

10th Court of Appeals
The 10th Court of Appeals has visited SHSU for the past five years to allow students, as well as community members, the opportunity to see the law in action. —Photo by Mike Yawn

The 10th Court of Appeals will hear arguments on the possession of marijuana, a wrongful death, a university’s alleged student code of conduct rule violation, and trade secret violations during their annual appearance on the Sam Houston State University campus.

Sponsored by SHSU’s Center for Law, Engagement, And Politics, the three-judge panel will hear four cases on Wednesday (April 1), beginning every hour (except from noon to 1 p.m.) between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Beto Criminal Justice Center’s Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom.

“This is a great opportunity for students, staff, and local residents to see the courts in action,” said LEAP director Mike Yawn.

The 10th Court of Appeals is comprised of Chief Justice Tom Gray, of Waco, who also is an SHSU College of Business Administration alumnus; Justice Rex D. Davis, of Waco; and Justice Al Scoggins, of Ennis. 

The cases, which last approximately 50 minutes each, include the following civil and criminal issues:

  • 10 a.m.: the legality of a game-warden search and the possession of marijuana
  • 11 a.m.: a wrongful death, stemming from an altercation with bouncers at a topless club
  • 1 p.m.: an alleged rule violation of the student code of conduct by Texas A&M University
  • 2 p.m.: trade secret violations in the timber industry

This year marks the fifth consecutive year the 10th Court of Appeals has traveled to Huntsville to hear arguments.  Although the Court’s home base is in Waco, the legislature permits the court to travel to other venues, provided that the travel involves educating the public on the functions of an appeals court, such as in this case, according to Yawn.

 “The students and the local citizens get to see how an appeals court works, while observing how a real case unfolds,” he said.

In appeals court hearings, there is no jury, and the justices do not reach a decision at the end of arguments.  The decisions are handed down later, and can be accessed through the court’s website, at

Attorneys are given 20 minutes to speak, which includes a three-minute period in which the attorneys can turn and address the audience on the facts of the case. 

“This is not regularly done, but the justices permit it on their campus visits so that the audience can better follow the legal arguments,” Yawn said.

“This is a great opportunity for us, as students,” said Alex Galvan, a member of the LEAP Center student advisory board. “The appeals process is different than the jury trials, and it’s a rare chance to see the proceedings up close.”

The proceedings are open to the public, although seating is limited. 

Those in attendance are required to observe a dress code, which prohibits short-shorts, tank tops, halter tops, caps/hats, sweat pants, tights/leggings without outerwear, or any clothing with inappropriate language or images, and other inappropriate attire. 

Neither food nor drinks are allowed in the courtroom during sessions, including chewing gum or tobacco products, and the use of phones, cameras, and other electronic devices is not permitted.

Attendees should arrive a few minutes early and plan to stay in the courtroom until 50 minutes past the hour.

For more information, contact Yawn at 936.294.1456 or

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