'Appeals on Wheels' courts audience at Butler

Three appellate court judges made a stop at Indiana's Butler University recently as part of an ongoing program to educate laypersons on what exactly an appellate court does.

 “Television does a lot about trial courts, and they don’t do much about appellate courts," Judge Margret Robb said. "This is really our opportunity to educate the public about what we do and how we do it.”

Robb and her fellow judges, James Kirsch and Paul Mathias, are part of "Appeals on Wheels," which stops at schools, rotary clubs and independent living facilities. At Butler, they held court and heard arguments in a case in which police stopped a car with a broken taillight, then charged the driver after finding 25 grams of methamphetamine in a fast-food burger box.

Approximately 100 people sat in on the court, which the judges said was a much bigger audience than they're used to.

“It gives us an opportunity to go out into the communities — normally, we don’t attract big audiences — and allow people to see what we do," Robb said.

At a lower court, Joel Wieneke, the attorney for the driver, Otis Sams, had sought to suppress the evidence, arguing that law enforcement officials violated Sams’ Fourth Amendment rights, which protect against unreasonable search and seizure. When the court denied his motion, Wieneke took the case to the appeals court.

After the hearing, the judges did not specify when they would make a decision on the appeal, but Kirsch, a frequent visitor to Butler, was happy about coming back to hold court.

“I have great pride in this university,” he said


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