“Today, what you’re about to witness is history in the making,” said Associate Provost and Dean of the Law School Linda L. Ammons
. “We have the best state Supreme Court in the United States seated here,” she said, adding, “We are quite privileged to have this opportunity,” before the justices heard oral arguments in the case of James Cooke v. State of Delaware.
The Supreme Court heard two cases in the special session held in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom at Widener Law’s Delaware campus on Wednesday, April 8th. The courtroom was packed for both cases, with many students taking the valuable opportunity to see the Supreme Court hear oral arguments. The estimated crowd for the second hearing was estimated at 260 individuals between the Ruby Vale and the two overflow rooms showing the arguments via live video feed.
The first case, heard at 10 a.m., was Bromstad-Deturk v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., a case involving how three insurance policies defined uninsured motorist coverage, and whether or not Delaware law precludes those policies from “stacking.” Widener Law alumna Beverly L. Bove of the class of 1979 represented Bromstad-Deturk.
The second case, heard shortly after 11 a.m., James Cooke v. State of Delaware, appealed Cooke’s March 2007 conviction and death sentence for the May 2005 rape and murder of University of Delaware sophomore Lindsey Bonistall on the grounds that his trial counsel violated Cooke’s rights by refusing his demands to seek a not guilty verdict and instead pursue a verdict of guilty but mentally ill. Attorneys Joseph A. Gabay, Widener Law class of 1982, and Jennifer Kate Aaronson, Widener Law class of 1995, served as Cooke’s appellant attorneys, while Deputy Attorney General Paul Wallace represented the state.
“I would like to thank the Supreme Court and their staff members, in particular Mr. Steve Taylor and Ms. Kathy Howard for working with our staff here in making these arrangements possible,” said Dean Ammons in her opening remarks, adding, “In addition, a thank you to Connie Sweeney for coordinating with the visit of the Supreme Court.”