ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It’s not everyday Georgia’s Supreme Court visits Southwest Georgia, but Thursday eight justices held a special session at Albany State University, hearing oral arguments.
Attorneys with the Dougherty County Judicial System, county and city officials, and hundreds of students were present for this session.
Each year, the Supreme Court travels outside Atlanta to hear cases in efforts to bring awareness of the court’s business and judicial process to the public.
Over 400 people were able to hear two appeals, one civil case and one criminal case.
The first was an appeal of a Georgia Court of Appeals ruling, involving a lawsuit between two physicians and former partners in which one alleges the other stalked him and his employees.
The second was an appeal of a young man convicted in Houston County and sentenced to life in prison for his role in a double murder.
The event was created to inform the public about judicial literacy.
Students from ASU, Monroe and Dougherty High Schools, Sherwood and Deerfield-Windsor academies were able to hear how justices facilitated two appeals.
The Chief Justice Harold Melton said this was a way to get students involved in a real learning experience.
“And leading up to this court session lawyers in the community have been going out to the schools talking to the students about the cases. We’re going to encourage the students to file the decisions so that they can kind of sync up and see where the decisions are consistent with they think the court will be going,” said Justice Melton.
The Chief Justice said the local Dougherty County Bar Association played a major part in the outreach with local students.
Dougherty County leaders also said having the Georgia Supreme Court in Albany Thursday was an honor.
“This is a huge for us to have the top court in the state here in Albany and Dougherty County. These are the top legal minds in the entire state deciding very important decisions. And for them to have that engagement with our community shows how we’re progressing as a community,” said Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas.
Now, students will give their input on how they think these rulings should go.
One student said this opportunity opened her eyes to a potential career field.
“Just being exposed to it I’ve never considered a career opportunity in this field, but now I’m starting to consider it and appreciate being exposed to and for the opportunity to see the process,” said Anna Johnson, a student at Deerfield-Windsor.
The Justice Melton said in the coming months students will learn if their decisions aligned with the Court’s final ruling.
Also, while the Supreme Court was here, Ken Hodges was sworn in for his new role as a judge with the Court of Appeals, along with Dougherty County Magistrate Court Judge John Stephenson sworn in for state court.