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Students attend court trial on campus

The University of South Florida hosted a hearing of the Second District Court of Appeals, the first event of its kind to be held on campus.

The trial, held Monday evening, was coordinated by professor Judge Raymond O. Gross and Judge Edward C. LaRose, who both helped arrange the event’s public, on-campus setting at C.W. Bill Young Hall.

“This was a way to provide students with an opportunity to see the process of an actual trial,” Gross said. “We arranged visitations in order to have the trial here at the University and make sure we had proper facilities for this to occur.”

Two of the three presiding judges were USF alumni: Judge Carolyn K. Fulmer graduated with a B.A. in English and Judge Darryl C. Casanueva graduated with a B.A. in political science. The other judge, Chris W. Altenbernd, served as the primary.

An information session for students and the public explaining the case preceded the trial.

The trial was a civil case over a custody issue that began outside the United States, on the French side of St. Maartin. Originally a divorce case, it became a child custody dispute.

The divorce trial first occurred under French law in St. Maartin, and the custody and visitation rulings were also under French court.

The trial was then appealed in the U.S. because both parents moved to Florida. The trial on campus was an oral argument between the judges and the lawyers representing both sides, with no jury.

“There was no decision met at the end of the hearing due to the location being outside of the courthouse, as well as the final opinion, which will be reached in 45 to 60 days from now,” Gross said after the trial.

Students from Gross’s Law and Legal Careers class and organizations such as the Pre-Law Club attended.

Students were able to address questions concerning the trial to the judges and the lawyers from both sides.

“This was an excellent opportunity for students to see an appellate court trial in an educational manner,” said senior political science major Steven Borden.

This was the first trial many students in attendance had been able to sit in on.

“It’s exciting to have something like this happen at USF,” said junior political science major Mariam Guerges. “It’s also very interesting to be able to see a trial and the processes and formats in person.”

Gross said he was pleased with the crowd.

“The University was very helpful and has great facilities for events like these to occur,” he said. “This event helps the school continue its educational mission not only in the classroom but outside of it as well.”