Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts visits the U.'s law school

Published: Tuesday, April 5 2011 5:19 p.m. MDT

Chief Justice John G Roberts addresses Rose Park Elementary School students Tuesday enrolled in Kids' Court at the S.J. Quinney College of Law

S.J. Quinney College of Law

SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts paid a visit Tuesday to the University of Utah's law school, helping judge a moot court competition and speaking to students.

The visit was four years in the making, said Hiram Chodosh, the law school's dean. Other Supreme Court justices have come to the U.'s campus before — including Harry Blackmun, Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas — but Roberts was the first chief justice.

"We were just thrilled with the experience," Chodosh said.

Roberts' visit was off-limits for the press. First-year law students knew they would have a special guest, but had no idea it would be Roberts until their moot court bailiff announced his name. He judged the competition along with Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham and Scott M. Matheson Jr., a federal judge for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Chodosh said Roberts gave the students constructive feedback and advised them to trust their thinking ability in the face of complex legal problems.

Roberts also spoke for a half-hour to fifth- and sixth-grade students from Rose Park Elementary School who are mentored by law students at the U.

The chief justice had dinner Monday evening at the Grand America hotel with guests including Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, according to a public schedule released by Shurtleff's office.

One thing Roberts did not do, in public or private, is discuss cases pending before the Supreme Court — generally a no-no for sitting justices.

E-mail: pkoepp@desnews.com Twitter: pbkdn

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