Law Day gets its day in court

In commemoration of Law Day, the Washington State Court of Appeals will hear four cases in the Kitsap County Commissioners’ Chamber in Port Orchard on May 2.

“We want the public to see how the courts operate from up close,” said Appeals Court Judge Robin Hunt, a Bainbridge Island resident. “And we want to show them how differently we operate from a jury trial.”

The four cases that will be heard have already received a ruling with which the defendant disagreed. During the hearing, each side will be allowed 20 minutes to present their case.

Aside from the differences from a jury trial, Hunt said the demonstration is also intended to show a contrast between real life and television.

“We want to displace the ‘Judge Judy’ idea in peoples’ minds,” she said. “Some people think that court is supposed to be like TV. But TV is not real court, and if a judge acted like Judge Judy they would probably be reprimanded under the code of judicial conduct.

“I firmly believe that the more people understand about how real court as opposed to entertainment court works, the more confidence they will have in the justice system and in the process of and limitations on judicial decision making.

“The press reports cases that are more sensational,” she said. “But we don’t make snap judgments. There are always reasons why we made a particular decision, even if the results don’t sound like they make sense.”

Unlike a regular courtroom, Law Day gives spectators a chance to ask questions of the attorneys and the three-judge panel.

Hunt called this year’s Law Day “bittersweet,” due to the recent death of Bremerton attorney Ron Anderson. “For years Ron has faithfully and enthusiastically organized this event, which is known as the best Law Day in the state,” Hunt said. “We miss him now and will really miss him on May 2.”

The Kitsap Law Day ceremony honors student Law Day essay contest winners, members of the military, the Liberty Bell Award to a layman who has contributed to the cause of justice, high school mock trial teams, scholarship winners, and others.

Law Day will begin at 8:30 a.m. May 2 in the Kitsap County Commissioners’ Chambers in Port Orchard.

The trials will follow at 10 a.m. After a commemorative lunch featuring former U.S. Attorney John McKay as the keynote speaker.

The trials will resume at 2 p.m.

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