Traveling Oral Argument

Exterior of Honeywell Center in Wabash, Indiana

The Supreme Court will travel to the Honeywell Center's Ford Theater in Wabash (Wabash County) to hear oral arguments on Thursday, April 18, at 10:00am EDT.

What is an oral argument?

Public Supreme Court proceedings are called "oral arguments," which provide the Justices with the opportunity to ask attorneys questions about the cases. Usually, oral arguments last 40 minutes to an hour. An honorary bailiff will call the court to order. Each side has 20 minutes to argue. On March 14, the Supreme Court ordered this argument to be lengthened to fifty minutes. Typically the appealing party will open the argument, the other side then responds, and then the appealing party has the last word. More information including rules for attending Supreme Court oral arguments can be found online.

Relevant State Social Studies Standards

The traveling oral arguments program addresses state academic standards in U.S. Government and United States History. The argument process demonstrates the principles of due process, judicial review, and an independent judiciary.

Case materials for Katelin Seo v. State of Indiana (18S-CR-595)

The State charged Seo with stalking and invasion of privacy for allegedly harassing D.S. and violating a protective order prohibiting her from contacting D.S. When police arrested Seo, she possessed a smartphone. The number of the phone matches that of a phone used to send numerous texts to D.S. It also appears to be the same phone that Seo previously unlocked voluntarily and gave to police when she made criminal allegations against D.S.

The Hamilton Superior Court issued a warrant compelling Seo to unlock the phone so police could search it. Seo refused, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The court found Seo in contempt. To purge herself of contempt, the order requires Seo to unlock the phone and disable the passcode function or change the phone’s passcode to 1234.

Seo appealed, and a majority of the Court of Appeals reversed. Seo v. State, 109 N.E.3d 418 (Ind. Ct. App. 2018), vacated. Judge Mathias concluded the contempt order violates the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination because it compels Seo to provide a testimonial communication. Judge Riley concurred in the result. Judge May dissented and would hold that requiring Seo to unlock the phone does not violate the Fifth Amendment because the foregone conclusion doctrine applies given that the State already knows Seo owns the phone and can unlock it with her passcode.

The State filed a petition to transfer, challenging the Court of Appeals opinion. The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer and assumed jurisdiction over the appeal.

Indiana Supreme Court

Court of Appeals