Unique Day of Appellate Oral Arguments at Samford University

Posted: Wed, 03/19/2014 - 09:41

The Birmingham Bar Foundation and Samford University's Cumberland School of Law will revisit history through a unique day of appellate oral arguments to educate students about the importance of the civil rights movement in appellate decisions. 

High school, college and law students from area schools have been invited to the event that will feature a mock oral argument of one of the most influential civil rights cases decided by the United States Supreme Court in the 1960s – Katzenbach v. McClung

The Katzenbach case concerned whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applied to Ollie’s Barbecue, a popular restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama. The mock argument will be presented by Kevin L. Butler, federal public defender for the Northern District of Alabama and Barry A. Ragsdale, an attorney with Sirote & Permutt, PC. Federal judges from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as from the Northern District of Alabama, will serve as the panel of judges for the mock oral argument. 

“This is a great opportunity for students to gain an understanding of what was the most important Supreme Court decision of its time,” said Barry Ragsdale. “I am proud to be part of an event that helps students understand the vital role that Birmingham played in the civil rights movement.”

Prior to the mock oral argument, there will be an opening vignette commissioned by the Foundation and written by Mary Nagle, a New York attorney and playwright.  The vignette will feature actors from Samford University’s Theatre Department and will bring to life the reality of segregation in Birmingham. After the mock argument, a panel discussion will emphasize the significance of the Katzenbach decision and how it continues to impact current issues related to civil rights.

The event will be held on Thursday, March 20, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., at the Leslie Wright Center on the Samford University campus (Samford University Wright Center, 800 Lakeshore Dr., Homewood, Alabama, 35229). It is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Birmingham Bar Foundation at 205.251.2231 or by email at bbfound@bellsouth.net/.