Courts in the Community
LAHAINA, Hawaii – For the first time in three years, the Hawaii Supreme Court resumed in-person oral arguments at a high school for its Courts in the Community program.
“We are thrilled to be at Lahainaluna High School today to conduct oral argument and provide the students with this unique opportunity,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “During the pandemic, students participated by Zoom, but nothing compares to being in person. This was an exciting day for everyone involved.”
Students from Lahainaluna High School, Kamehameha Schools Maui, King Kekaulike High School, Lanaʻi High and Elementary School, and Molokai High School watched the oral argument in-person. A total of 315 students participated.
The Courts in the Community program is designed to educate students about the Judiciary’s role in government and its function in resolving disputes in a democratic society. The students prepared using a curriculum developed by the Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center and the Students for Public Outreach and Civic Education at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law. Attorneys from the Maui County Bar Association and Hawaii State Bar Association volunteered their time to discuss the case with the students and facilitated a moot court activity.
The court heard oral arguments in the case of Hoʻomoana Foundation v. Land Use Commission, Puʻuonoa Homeowners Association, Inc., and Ross R. Scott. Oral argument was followed by two question-and-answer sessions for the students; one with the attorneys and another with the five justices.
“The Courts in the Community program is about hands-on civics education and providing students with a chance to go beyond the textbooks by observing an actual Supreme Court oral argument,” said the Chief Justice.
“We would like to thank everyone who made this day a success — the students, teachers, school administrators, Maui attorneys, Lahainaluna High School, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Maui County Bar Association, Akaku, and the Judiciary staff,” Recktenwald added.
“It has been a pleasure for us to work with the Judiciary to provide our youth with this opportunity,” said Hawaii State Bar Association President Shannon S. Sheldon. “The volunteer attorneys were excited to engage with the teachers and students about the case. And, as a Maui-based attorney, I am especially pleased that the program resumed in-person oral arguments here on our island at Lahainaluna.”
The Hawaii State Bar Association and the Hawaii State Bar Foundation provided the in-person participants with lunches and transportation for the King Keakaulike, Molokai, and Lanaʻi students.
Courts in the Community is the Hawaii Supreme Court’s educational outreach program that gives high school students unique, hands-on experience in how the Hawaii judicial system works.
Under the Courts in the Community program, the full, five-member court travels to Hawaii high schools to hear oral argument in an actual case.
The event begins with remarks welcoming the audience and explaining the format of the proceedings. The court will hear one oral argument during the visit. At the conclusion of the argument, the justices depart the room so that the students may discuss the case with the participating lawyers. The lawyers leave the room at the end of their session and the justices return to answer non-case related questions from the students. A luncheon with the students and members of the bar usually wraps up the activities. The entire visit generally lasts about four to five hours.
Prior to the court convening on a campus, students have the opportunity to learn about the judicial system and the appellate process using 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. The students also participate in a moot court exercise involving the actual case that will be argued when the court comes to campus. The Hawaii State Bar Association has been providing financial support for students participating in the program. The moot court activity is facilitated by volunteer lawyers or law school students.
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