Outreach program allows students to observe oral argument before Supreme Court

Waianae High School

The Hawaii Supreme Court heard an oral argument in Waianae Thursday as part of its Courts in the Community outreach program.

Four-hundred high school juniors and seniors from Waianae, Campbell, Pearl City and Waipahu high schools, and Island Pacific Academy, were in attendance.

To prepare for the argument, they 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. The process culminates with a moot court activity facilitated by members of the Hawaii State Bar Association.

Thursday’s session allowed them to see first-hand how the justice system works.

“I learned how the Supreme Court goes, all the difficulties and the requirements you have to meet, the stuff you have to go through, readying everything, knowing the law,” said student Ceejay Francisco.

“It’s an opportunity for them to see how the court actually operates in a real case and, to us, that helps them understand our system of justice, how our constitution operates, what the role of courts is and what the rule of law means in practice,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.

The oral argument was followed by two separate question-and-answer sessions for the students; one with the attorneys and another with the five justices.

This is the seventh argument in the program, which began in 2012. The next will happen in spring 2016.

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