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'Law Day' Features Real Session of Fifth District Court of Appeal

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The Department of Legal Studies hosted a real court session open to UCF students and other members of the campus community on April 21, from 9 a.m. to noon, in the Cape Florida Ballroom in the Student Union.

For the second year in a row, three judges from Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeal presided over the session in a make-shift "courtroom." The chief judge was the Honorable C. Alan Lawson, accompanied by the Honorable Wendy W. Berger and the Honorable James A. Edwards.

The panel of judges listened to oral arguments made by real attorneys on real cases. Students had an opportunity to participate in a Q & A session with the court.

About 220 students attended the proceedings, according Katie Connolly, who worked with staff colleagues Danielle Malcolm, Kaitlyn Sweeney and Rupert Neisch and legal studies major Alexis Soto to ensure the event ran without a hitch.

Among the attendees were students enrolled in Law and the Legal System taught by department Chair James Beckman.

"The students were excited and thrilled to have such an important court come to UCF and to hear real cases and ask questions of the of the lawyers and judges," Beckman said. "They used terms like 'amazing, 'incredible' and 'highly educational' to describe the event."

Beckman also said the day extended well beyond the end of the hearings. After a department-sponsored lunch, the judges requested a walking tour of the campus, college and department, and an opportunity to meet members of the legal studies faculty.

The department obliged, and the tours and faculty introductions went exceptionally well, Beckman said. "The judges were very impressed and extremely complimentary of our program, particularly our faculty accomplishments, the breadth of our courses and the number of our students successfully going onto law school," he said.

Associate Lecturer Margarita Koblasz was chiefly responsible for organizing this year's event, as well as a very successful inaugural event in 2015. Other faculty members lent a hand this year, including Lecturer Brett Meltzer, who led the tour with Beckman; Lecturer Jason Fiesta; Lecturer Marc Consalo; Assocate Lecturer Kathy Cook; Associate Lecturer Abby Milon and Lecturer Cindy Schmidt.

"I was so proud to be part of a team of such professionals, staff and faculty," Beckman said. "My hope is that Legal Studies continues to hold such high-caliber events for years to come."

Plans are for UCF to continue to host this event annually.  

For more information, contact Katie Connolly at

Law Day 2016
This post-luncheon photo pictures (left to right) Austyn White, legal studies major; Christopher Lawson, criminal justice major; Nicole Kennedy, legal studies major; Christopher "CJ" Kiernan, legal studies major; the Honorable C. Alan Lawson, presiding judge; the Honorable Wendy Berger; the Honorable James A. Edwards; and Alexis Soto, legal studies major.

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