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Aside from rulings and the other workings of the court, one of the things that most excited the chief justice and some court watchers was the justices’ decision to again go on the road with oral arguments — this time in San Jose. As it did with a 2002 trip to Fresno, the court invited students to oral arguments in San Jose in December. The session was also shown on closed-circuit TV, a local public broadcasting station and statewide via the California Channel. The court took questions from high school students brought in for the session. Chief Justice Ronald George said the feedback from students, educators and lawyers has energized the court. “With this educational component,” he said recently, “the justices are getting more and more enthused about going beyond our traditional venues [San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento] and taking the court on the road. “Members of the court,” he continued, “are seriously interested in having another such session next year.” A major population center will likely play host, he said. Santa Clara’s Gerald Uelmen said he would love to see the court tour more often. “They are just having a big impact,” he said. “What they did in San Jose was just awesome.” George also said that although he has no idea exactly how much the road trips cost, they replaced regularly scheduled court appearances in Los Angeles, and, therefore, are likely no more expensive. “It is quite possible that we saved money, in that going to Fresno without the airfare was cheaper than going to Los Angeles,” he said. “And when we went to San Jose, there also was no airfare to Los Angeles. And hotels are probably cheaper in those places.” On their trip to Fresno, the justices and a minimal number of staffers traveled by train, while cars were used to ferry everyone to San Jose. Uelmen said he thinks it would be a good idea if the court considered televising more, if not all, of its arguments. But George doesn’t believe the court could attract an audience with all its cases. “I’m not sure there would be much interest,” he said. “Some of our cases could be sponsored by Sominex for people with sleeping disorders.” But if there are cases of special interest and the justices are willing, George won’t rule out television. “The more information we can get out about how our courts operate,” he said, “the more we foster understanding and confidence in the court system.”

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