Oregon Supreme Court to visit PSU

For the first time in Portland State’s history, the Oregon Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on campus as part of its public outreach program.

For the first time in Portland State’s history, the Oregon Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on campus as part of its public outreach program.

“The Oregon Supreme Court does what they call a traveling road show,” said Andrew Bridge, president of PSU’s chapter of the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, Alpha Phi Sigma, and co-chair of Pi Sigma Alpha, PSU’s chapter of the national Political Science Honor Society.

The oral arguments that will be heard consist of four pending criminal cases that have been condensed into two sessions, according to Ashley McClain, president of PSU’s Pre-Law Society.

“This is part of the Court’s outreach efforts to demystify the work that the highest court does,” she said. 

During the oral arguments, the prosecution and defense attorneys will present the cases to the justices. In turn, the justices will respond with questions to each of the attorneys, according to Bridge.

“The justices have actually been gracious enough to allow audience members to ask them questions,” he said. “They will answer questions about their line of reasoning and points of interest in law.”

Bridge was informed about the program after Robert Durham, an associate justice of the OSC, spoke to the Political Science Honor Society in December. He then reached out to McClain about the possibility of such an event happening at PSU.

McClain expressed interest, and the event ultimately became a collaboration between the PLS, the Criminal Justice Honor Society and the Political Science Honor Society, according to Bridge.

Though this is the first time the OSC will hear oral arguments at PSU, it has visited other universities in the Oregon University System, McClain said.

“It will be a great opportunity, not just for law students, but for all students who want to see how the OSC operates,” she said.

While working out the technicalities of the event, Bridge and McClain met challenges when reserving rooms. As a result, they contacted student Christopher Proudfoot and ASPSU President-Elect Katie Markey.

 “We took care of the technicalities and made sure that all of the requirements were met,” Markey said. “But [Bridge and McClain] put all of the really hard work into it.”

According to Proudfoot, who is also a member of the Smith Memorial Student Union Advisory Board, the special requirements included a secure room and a space for the justices to speak in private.

Markey, who takes office in June, hopes that she can help bring the OSC back to campus next year.

“I would love to see [the Court] come back,” she said. “I will lend as much support as possible.”

The justices will hear the first set of cases at 9 a.m., in room 327 Smith Memorial Student Union, but visitors are encouraged to arrive at 8:30 a.m. Once the first session begins, audience members will not be allowed in-and-out access until the break. The second set of cases will be heard at 10:30 a.m.

Chief Justice Paul De Muniz, an alumnus of PSU, will be present at the event, according to Bridge.

“I am really excited and I’m hoping that we have a huge turnout,” McClain said.

Information about the cases can be found at www.ccjhonors.com.