Federal judges hold court at Stanford Law School

Photo of U.S. Appeals Court Building for the 9th Circuit: Photo credit: Eric Broder Van Dyke/www.shutterstock.com

Stanford law students set aside their books for some real-world case studies this week when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on campus.

In a packed courtroom in the basement of Stanford Law School, Judges SIDNEY THOMAS, JEROME FARRIS and RANDY SMITH peppered lawyers with questions for just over an hour.

The proceedings began with a warning from the U.S. marshal, who reminded the crowd that despite being on campus, this was not a mock courtroom and federal rules of court conduct applied: Be silent, don’t leave until there’s a break in the cases, no standing, no texting.

The judges then entered and heard three cases: Anwar v. Johnson, a bankruptcy case in Arizona; United States v. Harmon, a money-laundering case in California; and Bush v. Integrity Staffing Solutions, a labor case out of Nevada.

The judges were engaging, and even funny, as they dug into the details of each case.

“If this was so important, why didn’t her attorney bring it up at trial?” Thomas asked the lawyer for JAMIE HARMON, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor who wants a new trial.

Students and others watched intently as the lawyers worked to defend their positions, referencing federal rules and past cases.

The appeals court for the 9th Circuit deals with cases from nine western states and two Pacific Island jurisdictions. Three-judge panels routinely travel to different locations to hear arguments. Stanford has generally been on the court’s schedule once or twice a year.

More details about the cases and the court’s schedule can be found on the 9th Circuit’s website.

—BROOKE DONALD