Published on November 16, 2023 by Morgan Black
Samford University Cumberland School of Law and the Birmingham Bar Foundation partnered to host oral arguments of the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in Samford’s Wright Center, Nov. 16, 2023. This event brought together Samford undergraduate students, Cumberland School of Law students and high school students from the Birmingham area for a truly unique educational experience.
Blake Hudson, dean of Cumberland School of Law, provided the welcome. He said, “The court coming here is a tremendous opportunity for our community to see the criminal justice system in action. It is an opportunity to inspire a new generation of young adults to pursue a career in law so that they can positively impact the lives of others in our community.”
Cumberland School of Law alumnae Christina Graham, JD ’00, president of the Birmingham Bar Foundation; and Judge Elisabeth French, JD ’97, presiding judge of Alabama’s 10th Judicial Circuit, also provided welcoming remarks. Graham noted the importance of making this “very important civic function accessible to so many people” and French said she hoped the arguments would inspire someone to pursue a legal career.
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals includes Presiding Judge Mary B. Windom, and Judges J. Elizabeth Kellum, J. Chris McCool, J. William Cole, and Cumberland School of Law alumnus Richard J. Minor, JD ’93. Windom opened the hearings by introducing the judges and providing remarks. She said, “By bringing these oral arguments to you, we hope you will garner a better understanding of our judicial system.”
During the proceedings, arguments for two criminal cases were heard, one in which Cumberland School of Law alumnus John Hensley, JD ’10, assistant attorney general in the Alabama Attorney General’s office, represented the State of Alabama.
Hudson said, “Being able to expose our law students, and other students, to this experience was a privilege, especially when so many of our alumni are represented. It is important for the students to know they can be leaders at the highest levels, shaping critical areas of law and policy. I am thankful for the partnership with the court and the Birmingham Bar Foundation for helping us provide this opportunity.”
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.