Last week, members of Ms. Shea Cook’s AP Government class traveled to Winnacunnet to participate in the 2017 “On the Road” New Hampshire Supreme Court series. This program is specifically facilitated for high school students and provides them an opportunity to view the state’s highest court up close and personally.
Oral arguments are given in the same fashion as they are held at the Supreme Court courtroom in Concord. Each side receives 15 minutes to argue its case. Unlike “real life,” the Justices leave the bench after each oral argument and attorneys on both sides answer students’ questions. The day’s cases dealt with Miranda rights and negligent homicide caused by a DWI.*
Seniors piped up and demonstrated classic STA initiative with their inquiries. Connall Hirsch asked about the preparation process by with each attorney readied him/herself and Edward Smith delved more deeply into the ethical challenges of the legal system: “How do you deal with the moral dilemma of defending someone you believe to be guilty?”
The dialogue between students and lawyers was inspirational as witnesses watched the multiple layers of cognitive learning being processed in real time. Courtrooms are like legal laboratories where concepts such as morality and ethics bleed into economic/demographical complexities and cross-over into psychological and behavioral studies. No story, no “side” is ever perfectly clear. But this experience allowed our St. Thomas Aquinas High School students to twist the kaleidoscopic lens of justice in a way that clarified how challenging (and how important) is the determination of justice.
*Case Number: 2016-0118, State of New Hampshire v. Felix Ruiz
Crime: Receiving Stolen Property, RSA 637:7
Issues: Admissibility of Post-Miranda Statements after Miranda Violation; Applicability of Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine to Miranda; Sufficiency of Evidence
Case Number: 2016-0293, State of New Hampshire v. James Bazinet
Crime: Negligent Homicide caused by DWI, RSA 630:2
Issues: Admissibility of BAC and DNA test results of blood taken by hospital and seized by the State without a warrant