500+ Citizens See Justice in Action at Off-Site Court in Williams County
By Csaba Sukosd | October 28, 2019
Twice a year, the Ohio Supreme Court takes a recess from the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center and brings oral arguments right to its citizens elsewhere in the state.
In the 77th edition of its Off-Site Court Program, Ohio's court of last resort heard three cases before 383 high school students and 135 members of the public at Montpelier High School in Williams County. Located in the state's northwest corner, the school is less than 15 miles from the Michigan and Indiana borders.
"It's just fascinating to see how the highest court does everything, and how they just sit there and take it in," said Chandler Byers, a senior at Montpelier High School.
Along with seeing the Supreme Court justices in action, students from eight area high schools witnessed how the attorneys handle themselves under the spotlight as they defended their positions. After each case, the scholars heard directly from those lawyers about what happened during debrief sessions.
"I've seen trials, but it was a brand new experience to see it in real life," said Montpelier High School senior Emily Claire. "I was intrigued the entire time, watching intently."
Prior to the proceedings, students also spoke with the justices. The jurists started the segment by sharing how each member ascended to the state's high court. Then, they answered a wide array of questions ranging from how they deliberate to the challenges of being an elected official.
"I think it's a great opportunity for you folks to see we're just human beings," said Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor. "We don't walk on water. We put a black robe on to do our job."
Whether it was professional exposure or personal enlightenment, the day's events left an impression on attendees, especially those considering law as an occupation.
"Like the justices and the lawyers said, they discussed the impact they get to have on people in their lives," said Jaret Dye, a Montpelier High School senior. "I thought it was a very compelling experience to want to join this kind of field."