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All rise: Court of Appeals to hold session in Salisbury

Consider it a community lesson in the judiciary.

The N.C. Court of Appeals will hold a special session Nov. 18 at the Rowan County Courthouse.

The court is coming at the invitation of Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Anna Mills Wagoner and Rowan County Bar Association President Kathryn C. Setzer.

This is the first time the court has traveled to Rowan County to hear court cases in its 48-year history.

“Katie Setzer and I are thrilled and honored that the COA is traveling from Raleigh to share this unique opportunity with our community,” Wagoner said in an email. “And we hope that our local Bar, students and the public will take advantage of the chance to observe and learn about our Court of Appeals.”

The panel of three appellate court judges for the session — Chief Judge Linda McGee, Judge Linda Stephens and Judge Robert Hunter Jr. — will hear oral arguments in two cases, beginning at 2 p.m. in the Superior Court room of the Rowan County Courthouse.

Setzer and Wagoner invited area students to attend the session, which is open to the public, and expect about 100.

“The court was particularly interested in having students and the general public observe the arguments and questions of the panel,” Wagoner said. The judges plan to take a recess between arguments to answer questions from the public.

“We are proud to showcase our community, court and interested students to the N.C. Court of Appeals,” Wagoner said.

The session will be held in the Superior Court room in the old part of the courthouse. Wagoner recommended that those who want to attend the session get to the courthouse by 1:30 p.m. to get through security.

Chief Judge McGee said the court appreciated the invitation.

“The three judges on our panel look forward to this special opportunity to share the work of our court with the people of Rowan County and Judicial District 19-C,” McGee said.

The court averages two to three sessions a year outside of Raleigh, always by invitation and with approval from the N.C. Supreme Court, she said. The court also tries to hold a session at all seven law schools in the state each year to give law students a chance to hear appellate arguments.

One of the cases to be heard here involves an Ashe County man, Austin Lynn Miller, appealing his 2014 conviction on charges of purchasing a product containing pseudoephedrine having been previously convicted of methamphetamine possession. (The drug pseudoephedrine, found in some cold medications, is used to make meth.)

The other case pertains to a civil dispute over the estate of La-Reko A. Williams, a Charlotte man who died in 2011 after a police officer shocked him twice with a Taser.

The records and briefs for these cases can be found at nccourts.org. They are COA15-636 State v. Austin Lynn Miller and COA15-619 In the Matter of:  The Estate of La-Reko A. Williams.

The judges decide only questions of law, not fact. As the state’s intermediate appellate court, the Court of Appeals reviews the proceedings that occurred in the trial courts and state agencies for errors of law or legal procedure. It hears more than 1,500 cases on appeal each year.

The court also rules on thousands of petitions and motions annually. It has also provided a mediation program since 2002, offering parties in certain civil cases an opportunity to participate in mediation of their case pending before the Court.

McGee and company will join area judges for a luncheon before the court session and will attend the 19-C Judicial District Bar’s Annual Meeting that evening.

Additional information about the Court of Appeals can be found at www.nccourts.org.

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