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      Superior Court on Main Campus

      Pennsylvania Appellate Court Hears Oral Arguments

      superior court at widener

      Talking with students

      Senior Judge James J. Fitzgerald III speaks with Widener students during a court recess.

      Students, faculty and staff got a firsthand look at justice in action when the Superior Court of Pennsylvania visited main campus for a special court session on Tuesday, Sept. 19. Judge Jack A. Panella, who presided over the session, joined Judge Alice Dubow and Senior Judge James J. Fitzgerald III to hear roughly 20 appellate cases in Alumni Auditorium.

      “I thought it was so cool,” sophomore criminal justice major Carli Benozich said. “It was real-life cases involving real people.”

      The day began with an opening ceremony, in which President Dr. Julie E. Wollman described Widener's focus on transformative learning experiences.

      “At Widener, we are distinguished by an innovative, experiential approach to learning,” she said. “Our goal is that every student will have opportunities like this one we’re experiencing today, to directly connect their in-class learning to real-world opportunities.”

      Panella thanked the university for its collaboration in arranging the special session, and he welcomed the students. “You’re going to see the administration of justice as we hear arguments in cases that started at the trial level,” he said. “How wonderful that you could join us.”

      Delaware Law School Dean Rod Smolla attended the opening ceremony and told the students he hoped the experience would inspire them to consider legal careers. “This is a profession that gives you the opportunity to live a life of meaning and consequence,” he said.

      superior court visits widener

      Court convenes

      President Wollman welcomes the Pennsylvania Superior Court to campus.

      The judges met with students during a recess from their cases and answered questions about work-related stress and what made them want to enter the legal profession.

      The program was initiated by faculty under the direction Gordon P. Henderson, professor of political science. It drew hundreds of students from a wide variety of majors, including political science, psychology, sociology, history and social work.

      The Superior Court normally hears arguments on appeals in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, but occasionally visits other locations around the Commonwealth for special sessions, to better acquaint Pennsylvanians with the process by which matters before the state appeals courts are considered and resolved. The court exercises general jurisdiction statewide over all appeals from decisions of the state trial courts with the exception of death penalty appeals and cases brought against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its political subdivisions, such as school districts and municipalities. It is one of the busiest appellate courts in the nation.

      Interested in pursuing a career in law? Widener's pre-law program offers students the opportunity to explore a range of undergraduate majors in preparation for law school.


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