Today@Sam Article

10th Court Of Appeals Holding Oral Arguments At SHSU

March 27, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd


On April 3, Sam Houston State University’s Center for Law, Engagement And Politics (LEAP Center) will welcome the Texas 10th Court of Appeals to campus. The Appeals Court, consisting of a three-judge panel, will hear cases at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom in the Criminal Justice Center.

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

Sarah-Hope Carter, a LEAP Center student worker, has observed the 10th Court of Appeals hearings every year that she has been at SHSU.

“Sitting in on hearings of the 10th Court of Appeals is a great way to see the real justice system at work. The cases are interesting, the lawyers are really informative and you always seem to learn something new about the technicalities of the law," she said.

Serving on the 10th Court of Appeals are Chief Justice Tom Gray of Waco, an SHSU alum, and Justices Matt Johnson and Steve Smith. The cases, which last approximately 50 minutes each, feature the following issues:

  • At 10 a.m., a manslaughter, stemming from a 4-year-old girl’s death, while in the care of her stepmother, due to severe burns over the child’s head, chest, back and arms.
  • At 11 a.m., a first-degree felony of continuous sexual abuse of a young child.
  • At 1:30 p.m., the murder of a pregnant woman whose body was found in Walker County.

This year marks 13 consecutive years that the 10th Court of Appeals has traveled to Huntsville to hear arguments. In Appeals Court hearings, there is no jury and the justices do not reach a decision at the end of oral arguments. The decisions are handed down later and can be accessed through the Court’s website.


Attorneys are each given 20 minutes to present their oral arguments to the panel of justices. When the 10th Court of Appeals travels to a location that includes an educational component, such as SHSU, the attorneys have 17 minutes for their oral argument and three minutes to address the audience of students and local citizens directly and to summarize both the factual and procedural background of the case. This modified time schedule allows SHSU students and local citizens to be able to follow and understand the oral legal arguments more closely. In addition, five minutes is allowed for rebuttal by the appellant, the party who is appealing the trial court’s judgment to the 10th Court of Appeals.

“The cases were super interesting,” Sarah-Hope Carter said of last year’s hearings. “Though civil cases do not always seem engaging, one of the cases last year involved family drama and another case actually had the plaintiffs in the court room."

Although the proceedings are open to the public, seating is limited. The court has a dress code, which prohibits short-shorts, tank-tops, halter tops, caps/hats, sweatpants, tights/leggings without outerwear, any clothing with inappropriate language or images and other inappropriate attire. Use of phones, cameras and other electronic devices and bringing any food or drinks into the courtroom are not permitted.

For more information, contact Mike Yawn at 936-294-1456 or or visit the LEAP Center’s website.

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