MANSFIELD, Pa. – A university campus is a place bustling with a variety of events and activities. However, Mansfield University’s Straughn Auditorium recently played host to something unusual for a college campus when it was turned into a courthouse for the day.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania and three of its judges traveled to Mansfield University on Wednesday, October 20 to hear appeals of criminal and civil cases from around the commonwealth. The three Superior Court judges hearing cases were presiding Judge Mary Murray, President Judge Jack A. Panella, and President Judge Emeritus Correale Stevens.
Based in Harrisburg, the Superior Court is one of two appellate courts in Pennsylvania.
The Mansfield University Brass Band performed the National Anthem and senior political science major Benjamin Chambers recited the Pledge of Allegiance before Dr. John Ulrich, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, welcomed the court to Mansfield University. Judge Murray introduced the judiciary and explained the role of the Superior Court to the MU students in attendance.
“This is such a wonderful opportunity for everyone to see the Superior Court in action, but it’s also a great opportunity for us to promote the court throughout Pennsylvania,” explained Judge Murray.
“I’ve been a judge for 30 years and this is one of the most wonderful openings of a court I have ever been a part of,” said President Judge Panella following his introduction.
Cases heard during the session were either dismissed by a trial judge or were cases that went to trial and were appealed to the higher court. The judges of the “error-correcting court” reviewed the briefs ahead of time and heard arguments from lawyers representing their clients.
The Straughn Hall courtroom also became a classroom for the day as several Mansfield University political science and criminal justice classes as well as the MU Municipal Police Academy were invited to join the session’s audience.
“The opportunity to host the Pennsylvania Superior Court right here on Mansfield University’s campus is such a unique and special learning experience for our students,” explained Dr. Bashar Hanna, Interim President of Mansfield University. “We’re grateful to Judges Murray, Panella, and Stevens and their staff members, and to our own colleagues here at Mansfield who made this day possible on behalf of our students.”