The Kansas Court of Appeals met in Forum Hall on Tuesday in observance of U.S. Constitution Day.
Chief Judge Karen Arnold-Burger and judges Henry Green Jr. and Michael Buser heard four cases on the 232nd anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, three of which primarily concerned the Fourth Amendment.
“Every day at the Court of Appeals, we’re confronted with violations of the constitution, and today we’re looking back at this document to provide us with guidance,” Arnold-Burger said.
Reagan Whitworth, junior in social work, attended the session as a recently-declared pre-law student.
“This was the first full hearing I’ve ever sat in on, so I learned a lot,” Whitworth said. “Beginning to be versed in the types of cases they’re working with was a really helpful experience.”
One case presented to the court was the City of Manhattan v. Joel W. Laub.
A police officer stopped Laub around 1 a.m. after Laub’s truck tire went over a curb near the entrance to Aggieville. The officer concluded he was driving under the influence of alcohol and arrested him, charging him with a DUI.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure, and Laub argued the officer who pulled him over lacked reasonable suspicion. Laub said he did not commit a traffic violation, but the district court upheld the DUI conviction, finding that driving over the curb was a lane violation. Laub’s case was brought to the Kansas Court of Appeals on Tuesday with the same position taken before the district court.
Tom McClain, junior in economics, biology and pre-law, said he was interested to see the court in action.
“I always like hearing the interaction between the judge and the attorney,” McClain said. “I think it’s interesting that the judges are involved in the proceedings.”
The court heard three other cases: State of Kansas v. $81,957 in U.S. Currency, More of Less, and Alexis Milla; the State of Kansas v. Erika Yazmin Arceo-Rojas; and Dustin Delehanty, William E. Gies Jr., and Junction City Education Association v. Board of Education of Unified School District No. 475, Geary County. Both cases of the state concerned drug charges following traffic stops.
After hearing arguments from both the appellate and prosecutor from each case, the court returned to Topeka to deliberate.
Arnold-Burger said the average time between arguments and filing an opinion is 38 days.
Decisions are made by a 2-1 vote of the court and, once filed, are available to the public at the Kansas judicial branch website.