BL to host supreme court this spring

CONNORVILLE — Students will have an opportunity to see the state’s judicial branch in action as Buckeye Local High School is set to host the Supreme Court of Ohio this spring.

BLHS was selected to participate in the Off-Site Court program and the seven justices will preside over three cases in the school auditorium on April 29 between 9-10:30 a.m.

Students from schools throughout Jefferson County as well as home schools will be invited to watch the system at work.

Principal Lucas Parsons said he was approached at the start of the school year by Jefferson County Common Pleas Court Judge Michelle Miller to make a submission to the Ohio Supreme Court for consideration.

“There were eight schools in the running and we were contacted,” Parsons added. “We had to give presentations and they liked our enthusiasm and facilities, and then we were chosen as the site. I’m very excited.

This brings a whole new level of support to Buckeye Local by bringing this to the community.”

Judge Miller said she was asked if Jefferson County schools could hold court when she first got into office.

“This is a big deal that the Supreme Court of Ohio is coming to Jefferson County,” she added. “My staff and I had the opportunity to go to one in October and it is such a wonderful opportunity for the students.”

Sara Stiffler, manager of the Ohio Supreme Court’s civic education and outreach programs, said cases were still being assigned for that day but topics selected generally appeal to what teens view in society.

“Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor tries to pick cases that will be of interest to students,” Stiffler said. “In the past they have included search and seizure, DUIs or an accident with a school bus.”

She added that Chief Justice O’Connor recently reached out to counties where the judiciary had not held oral arguments.

The purpose of the program is to make the Supreme Court more accessible to students statewide who may not have the opportunity to witness it in action in Columbus, while it also provides transparency to the court system.

“Anybody from the community can attend and students come from local high school government classes, generally American government, mock trial or Ohio Model United Nations. We usually get 150-200 students who hear each of the three cases and the number depends on the county. We can have as many as 600 in one day.”

Prior to the offsite court visit, a local attorney will visit classes and work with the teachers to prepare students for the cases they will hear.

The classes will learn about oral arguments, court rulings and terminology while the state court’s Office of Public Information will also provide curriculum material to study before the session.

According to the state Supreme Court’s website, the Off-Site Court program was started in 1987 by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer to honor the year of the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.

He initiated the program to educate students and other Ohioans about the state judicial system and sessions are held twice a year during the spring and fall in different counties.

On the morning of the court session, selected students attend a question-and-answer session with the justices of the Court. Then, students from each participating school attend one of the three oral arguments.

After their assigned case has been argued, each group of students meets with the case attorneys for a debriefing.

To date, the Off-Site Court program has enabled 41,399 Ohioans–with 32,605 of them students — to personally observe the proceedings of the Supreme Court and interact with justices, attorneys and court staff.


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