Supreme Court of Maryland Hears Oral Arguments at St. Mary's College

Submitted by Chuck Steenburgh on March 07, 2024 - 11:53 am
March 07, 2024
By Chuck Steenburgh

The Supreme Court of Maryland heard oral arguments in the auditorium of the Nancy R. & Norton T. Dodge Performing Arts Center on the campus of St. Mary's College of Maryland on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. This marked only the second time in recent history that Maryland's highest court held oral arguments outside the City of Annapolis.

Several hundred students, both from St. Mary's College as well as high schools from three Southern Maryland Counties, attended the event, as well as the College's faculty and staff and members of the community. Associate Professor Diana Boros, PhD, chair of the Department of Political Science, organized a group of student ambassadors from SMCM. The ambassadors researched the two cases being argued before the court - one criminal, one civil - and produced written background and analysis documents that were then distributed to attendees. Professor Boros was instrumental in bringing the court to St. Mary's College as part of its recent efforts to begin holding oral arguments at secondary and post-secondary educational institutions across Maryland.

Student ambassadors included Mahree Annan, Charlotte Donnellan, Jack Dunshee, Ashleigh Dyson, Seth Funk, Bridget Norton, Sam Parizek, Nya Payton, Lily Riesett, Marlon Rodriguez, Emily Shrieves and Tori Uttenreither. After the oral arguments, the justices (sans trademark red judicial robes) came back to the stage and answered questions from more than 20 students on topics ranging from how the justices cope with the mental stresses of court service to the career paths that led them to the court. Afterward the seven justices and court staff had lunch with the ambassadors and other SMCM students in Daugherty-Palmer Commons.

The Mulberry Tree Gavel
The Mulberry Tree Gavel

Of special note, Chief Justice Matthew Fader presided over the session using the court's Mulberry Tree Gavel, created for the court in 1884 from the legendary mulberry tree from which the College's magazine derives its name. The Baltimore Sun, in its March 28, 1884 edition, noted the presentation to the Maryland Court of Appeals (as the Supreme Court of Maryland was known until 2022) of "a gavel made from the mulberry tree which formerly marked the site of St. Mary's."


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