St. John students participate in Fifth Circuit oral argument

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

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EDGARD — On Tuesday, February 7, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal held oral argument at the 40th Judicial District Court in Edgard. Students from East St. John High School, West St. John High School, Riverside Academy, and St. Charles Catholic were in attendance. Also in attendance were St. John the Baptist Parish Sherriff Mike Tregre, Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice John Weimer, and 40th Judicial District Court Judge Madeline Jasmine (retired) and St. John the Baptist Parish Assessor Lucien Gauff III, as well as the judges of the 40th Judicial District Court which include Judge J. Sterling Snowdy, Judge Vercell Fiffie and Judge Nghana Lewis.

The Fifth Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over the parishes of Jefferson, St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist. The Fifth Circuit also has supervisory jurisdiction, subject to the general supervisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, over all lower courts in all cases in which an appeal would extend to the court of appeal. Attorneys argued two pending appeals before the panel of three Fifth Circuit judges consisting of Judge Jude Gravois, Judge Susan Chehardy and Judge John Molaison Jr.

The first matter on the docket was a criminal matter originating from the 29th Judicial District Court in St. Charles Parish and the second was a workers compensation matter originating from the 24th Judicial District Court in Jefferson Parish. Prior to oral argument on the criminal matter, two students from St. Charles Catholic High School and two students from West St. John High School stood before the Court and read details regarding the case to the audience. An attorney from the St. Charles Parish District Attorney’s Office and an attorney representing the criminal defendant on appeal then proceeded to argue the matter before the Fifth Circuit panel. Each side was provided with 15 minutes to present their oral argument.

Once argument in the criminal matter concluded, two students from Riverside Academy and two students from East St. John High School stood before the audience to provide a factual accounting of the previous proceedings in the civil matter. The civil matter involved workers compensation issues, and each party in the civil matter was granted 15 minutes to argue. The Fifth Circuit took both matters under submission and will issue a ruling in the future.

At the conclusion of argument, students gathered with the judges for pictures and were provided the opportunity to engage with and ask questions of the judges. The 40th Judicial District Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal seek to make this a yearly opportunity for the students in St. John the Baptist Parish in order for the students to gain a better understanding of the judicial system and provide students an opportunity to engage in important matters in the community.