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The Washington Supreme Court's nine justices will travel to Walla Walla to hold a community visit at Whitman College next month. During the visit, the justices will speak to several of the college's classes, hold a panel discussion and hear arguments on two real cases that are open to the public.

"We invite and encourage anyone interested in learning more about the judicial branch of government to see the workings of the highest court up close and personal," said Chief Justice Mary E. Fairhurst.

Starting on Monday, the Court will conduct classroom visits with students throughout the day, ending with a panel discussion moderated by Whitman Professor Paul Apostolidis from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in the college's Maxey Auditorium.

On Tuesday, September 11th, Chief Justice Mary E. Fairhurst and Associate Justices Charles W. Johnson, Barbara A. Madsen, Susan J. Owens, Debra L. Stephens, Charles K. Wiggins, Steven C. González, Sheryl McCloud and Mary I. Yu will hear the following cases in Cordiner Hall beginning at 9 a.m.:

  • Case # 95635-9 - State v. Gehrke: Whether in this criminal prosecution for second-degree felony murder, the trial court erred in allowing the State to add an alternative charge of first-degree manslaughter contemporaneous with the State resting its case.
  • Case # 95511-5 - Harper et al. v. Department of Corrections: Whether in a tort action against the Department of Corrections for breach of its "take charge" duty to supervise an offender released on community custody, in which liability attaches only for gross negligence, the plaintiff must present substantial evidence of serious negligence to survive summary judgment.    

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to host the justices here on our campus as they deliberate these cases," said Whitman President Kathleen Murray. "Their visit promises to provide an impactful way for Whitman students as well as the larger community to observe the judicial system in action."

The state's highest court is located in Olympia in the Temple of Justice on the state capitol grounds. For more than a decade, the Court has heard cases "on the road" three times a year in an outreach effort allowing citizens to see the court in action in their local communities.   Though cameras and video recorders are generally allowed, the Court asks that no flash, other lights or noisy film advance mechanisms be used during the hearings.  

Oral arguments will be available to stream live at www.tvw.org, Washington's Public Affairs network, and taped for broadcast at a later date.

Written opinions are rendered approximately three to six months after oral arguments. For further information regarding the Supreme Court, visit the Washington Courts website at www.courts.wa.gov.