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Appeals on Wheels -- Not Just a Hoosier Thing

A program for the state appellate court in Indiana, called Appeals on Wheels, might not be the courthouse inside a food-truck that your modern mind envisions, but it's still awesome!

The focus of the program is to help educate the public about how the justice system works by holding real oral arguments, in real cases, off-site. Unfortunately, unlike The People's Court, or Judge Judy, the public likely feels a bit let down when they learn a decision won't be forthcoming at the end of the episode.

Real Appeal

For educational institutions, especially law schools, clearly there is some real appeal to a program like this. The program basically allows institutions, like law schools, colleges, high schools, and even tourist and retirement centers to host the appellate court for an oral argument. Basically, if your Indiana institution has the space and can attract an audience of at least 50, your institution could be a contender for hosting.

Notably, Indiana isn't the only state to have this sort of a program. Just last month the Washington state appellate court held an oral argument at a high school. So law students, if you want to watch a real oral argument without having to go any further than your campus, do a bit of research and ask your school to participate.

Ask a Judge

One fascinating feature of these events which lawyers, law students, and the public, seem to really enjoy is the Q&A afterwards with the judges. Unfortunately for the lawyers arguing their cases that day, the judges do not answer questions related to the merits of the arguments they just heard.

For the non-lawyer/law-student public though, the program is a bit different. Like a theater performance, beforehand, the audience is given a little preparation on the background of the case and parties, and the judges. Commenting on the program, calling it "a fabulous idea" and "a great civics lesson," Indiana county judge Maria Granger explained: "I think that any time that the public can witness justice at work, it just raises the awareness, I think it builds confidence, it builds trust ... that the system is working."

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