By Rupsha Basu
The seven justices of the Georgia Supreme Court heard a special session of oral arguments for two cases at the Emory School of Law on Friday morning in front of an audience of Emory students, faculty and Georgia community members.
The attorneys for the cases, regarding child cruelty and trademarks, presented their arguments to a full Tull Auditorium, where the justices of the Court sat on the stage and heard the cases.
Every year, the Court holds proceedings around the state to make the Court’s business and processes more transparent and accessible to the public.
The justices heard the cases Corvi v. The State of Georgia and India-American Cultural Association, Inc., v. iLink Professionals, Inc.
Attorneys for both cases were each allotted 20 minutes of speaking time during which the justices intervened and asked the attorneys questions.
In the case Corvi v. The State of Georgia, the Court is considering a Paulding County grand jury’s decision to charge an Uruguayan woman, Marta Sonia Corvi, with two counts of cruelty to children in the second degree and two counts of reckless conduct for the death of two young girls who were under Corvi’s care, according to a summary of the facts and issues of the cases on the Supreme Court of Georgia’s website.
The two five year-old girls, one of whom was Corvi’s granddaughter, drowned in a swimming pool while Corvi was in the basement of the house taking her diabetes medication and conducting a 45-minute phone call, according to the summary. The only other person in the house was a 13-year-old boy, who was asleep when the incident occurred, the summary stated.
Corvi’s attorney Andrew Fleischman constructed an argument that centered around the vagueness of the language of the original decision, particularly the “failure to reasonably supervise.”
Fleischman argued that Corvi’s actions leading up to the accident did not amount to child cruelty because the language is not defined in the Georgia statute, nor were her actions negligent enough to count as a “failure to reasonably supervise.”
Because Fleischman said a 45-minute phone call is not enough time to be negligent, the justices asked him a number of questions about where the line is drawn for negligence in terms of time.
The attorney for the State, District Attorney Donald Donovan, argued that Fleischman trying to prove language was too vague was not sufficient to raise a constitutional challenge.
First-year Law student Kristilee Ginther said she thought the justices should decide in favor of the State.
In India-American Cultural Association, Inc., v. iLink Professionals, Inc., the judges were asked to evaluate two companies’ rights to use the names “Miss India Georgia” and “Miss Teen India Georgia” for annual pageants, according to the summary.
The India-American Cultural Association, Inc. (IACA) had been hosting these two pageants for a number of years, but in 2011 and 2012 decided it would not host the events because they did not have the personnel for them.
iLink claimed that the IACA had agreed to let them host the pageant in 2012, but the IACA claimed that it did not indicate whether they would continue hosting the pageants after 2012, meaning iLink did not have rights to the trademarks for “Miss India Georgia” and “Miss Teen India Georgia,” according to the summary.
However, iLink had registered for the rights to the trademark and the IACA had not, the summary stated.
The attorney for the Association William Brewster argued that trademark rights are acquired through use rather than registration.
The attorney for iLink Michael Higgins argued that since iLink had held the pageants in 2012 they held the rights to the trademark and the IACA had abandoned them.
Kurtis Anderson, a first-year Law student, said he thought the Association’s argument was the more compelling.
“They didn’t give up their rights to the pageants just because they didn’t hold it one year,” Anderson said.
While most of the audience were law students, some still found the arguments in the cases familiar.
First-year Law student Amanda Schwarzenbart said she found the session helpful because first-year law students are assigned to construct an oral argument during their second semester.
Ginther said she was surprised by how many concepts she recognized during the session even as a first year law student.
The Court will release its rulings on the cases once they come to a decision in a few weeks.
â€” By Rupsha Basu, News Editor