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Courts in the Community: Hawaii Supreme Court Holds Oral Argument at Baldwin High School on Maui

Posted on Apr 27, 2017 in Featured News, News & Reports

MAUI, HI – As part of the Judiciary’s Courts in the Community outreach program, the Hawaii Supreme Court heard oral argument today at Baldwin High School. More than 480 students from Baldwin High School, Maui High School, Lahainaluna High School, Kihei Charter High School, St. Anthony School, Seabury Hall, King Kekaulike High School, Aka’ula School, and Moloka’i High School attended to enhance their understanding of the Judiciary’s role in government and its function in resolving disputes in a democratic society.

Under the program, the Hawaii Supreme Court convenes in schools to hear oral argument in cases pending before the court. This is the ninth argument in the program, which began in 2012.

Laughter and learning were part of the Courts in the Community Program when high school students asked questions of the Hawaii Supreme Court Justices. The Hawaii Supreme Court heard oral argument on April 27, 2017 at Baldwin High School on Maui. Left to right: Event Moderator Judge Joel August (ret.), Associate Justice Richard Pollack, Associate Justice Paula Nakayama, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Associate Justice Sabrina McKenna, and Associate Justice Michael Wilson.

To prepare, the participating juniors and seniors from each school studied a curriculum developed by the Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center and the Students for Public Outreach and Civic Education of the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law. Attorneys from the Maui County Bar Association (MCBA) also volunteered their time and facilitated a moot court activity in the participating classrooms, where the students had the opportunity to argue the case themselves before attending the Courts in the Community event. 

 “Our Courts in the Community program is about hands-on civics education and providing students with a chance to go beyond the textbooks by observing a real Supreme Court oral argument. Through this experience, we hope that the students realize it is a process with integrity, one that’s designed to get the truth. That understanding is vital to the future of our democracy,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. “I would like to extend a special mahalo to the teachers, the Maui County Bar Association, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Hawaii State Bar Foundation, and the dozens of volunteer attorneys who helped make this happen. These invaluable partnerships are what make the program a success.”

The Hawaii State Bar Association and the Hawaii State Bar Foundation generously provided the students with lunches and transportation to and from their schools on Maui.

“I’d like to thank our attorneys who enthusiastically volunteered to visit participating classrooms for pre-event discussions and preparations,” said HSBA President-Elect Howard K.K. Luke. “It was exciting to see the students intently following the arguments and asking very probing questions after the official court proceedings.”

“The Maui County Bar Association is delighted to have this chance to work with Maui’s teachers and students,” said MCBA President Brandon Segal. “As attorneys, one of the most beneficial things we can do for our community is simply teach people how the justice system works. Through Courts in the Community, students gain knowledge and experience that they will use as future leaders in society. The Maui Bar would like to thank everyone who made this day happen, especially the Hawaii Supreme Court, the volunteer attorneys, the teachers and school administrators, and the students themselves for being such enthusiastic participants.”

The court heard oral argument in the case of State v. Fukuoka. Oral argument was followed by two separate question-and-answer sessions for the students – one with the attorneys and another with the five justices.

If you have any questions or would like to request additional photos or video of the event, please contact the Hawaii State Judiciary Communications and Community Relations Office at (808) 539-4909.