AND STUDENTS FILL NORTHAMPTON COURTROOM
TO OBSERVE SUPREME JUDICAL COURT SITTING
Boston, MA--Hundreds of high school and college students from the
today packed the courtroom in the Hampshire County Superior
Court to learn how the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court
conduct appellate hearings.
The Justices of the state’s highest court heard five
cases on appeal before taking them under advisement. They
will issue written opinions (decisions) in each of the cases
within the next few months.
the SJC’s first sitting in Northampton since 1993. The Court heard the following cases: John W. Baker v. Katherine
C. Parsons, a civil case concerning issues related to a building
permit dispute; Commonwealth v. Michael Hyde, a criminal case
involving issues related to the electronic surveillance statute;
Commonwealth v. Vinton Ashmon, a second-degree murder case;
School District of Beverly v. James Geller, an arbitration
case concerning a teacher’s dismissal; and North Shore Realty
Trust v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a civil case involving
a zoning ordinance dispute and other related issues.
sitting began, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret
H. Marshall warmly greeted the audience of young people and
adults, and expressed her enthusiasm for their interest in
learning about the appellate process in a constitutional democracy.
She said, “It gives me great pleasure to see so many
people here today, especially students, many of whom may be
witnessing for the first time how an appellate court works. I applaud the teachers, and lawyers as well, for teaching these
young people about the significance of the judicial branch
of government and the freedoms that all of us cherish under
the rule of law.”
The president of the Hampshire County Bar Association,
Erin C. Wyllie, welcomed the Justices to Northampton in her
opening statement before the oral arguments in the cases
commenced. The bar association later held a luncheon for
the Justices where they mingled with lawyers, judges, and
court employees from the Northampton region.
Judicial Court, consisting of seven Justices, hears a broad
range of criminal and civil cases during the first week of
every month from September through May.
Single justice sessions are held each week throughout
the year. The Court
generally hears oral arguments in the Suffolk County Courthouse
in Boston. Since 1993,
the SJC has held sittings in Barnstable, Berkshire, Bristol,
Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Plymouth,
and Worcester counties.
in 1692, the Supreme Judicial Court is the oldest appellate
court in continousexistence in the Western Hemisphere, operating
under the oldest, still functioning written constitution in