U.S. Federal Appeals Court hears cases at Willamette

Three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard cases at the law school recently in a room packed with students, faculty and administrators.

The appeals court operates in Washington, D.C. but travels once a year. Appeals are heard by three-judge panels; the cases involve patent disputes, administrative law and requests for damages against the U.S. government.

Three of the four cases heard at Willamette involved patent disputes. One involved an employment disagreement with the Merit Systems Protection Board, a government agency established to protect federal merit systems and the rights of individuals within those systems. Each side was given 15 minutes to make oral arguments. Since the cases already had been heard at the federal administrative agency level, the attorneys argued points of law instead of presenting witnesses or evidence.

Security for the event was tight. Observers were forbidden to bring cell phones, cameras or computers into the hearing room; the only writing implements allowed were pens and paper.

Judges Richard Linn, Sharon Prost and Jimmie V. Reyna mingled with students and faculty at a reception afterward at Rick’s Café.