Maui News

Moloka’i High Students Learn About Hawaiʻi Supreme Court in Special Program

December 2, 2021, 11:29 AM HST
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Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Associate Justice Sabrina S. McKenna poses a question to an attorney during oral argument of the case State vs. John K. Jardine, which was viewed by high school students in the Courts in the Community program. Photo Courtesy: Hawaiʻi State Judiciary

The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court convened today by Zoom, with more than 150 students from Molokaʻi High and two Oʻahu high schools watching the oral argument in a case they had studied through the Courts in the Community program.

Since 2012, more than 5,300 students have participated in the Courts in the Community educational initiative to enhance their understanding of the judiciary’s role in government, and see first-hand how it resolves disputes in our democracy. This was the second time since the pandemic began that the outreach program was conducted remotely. The participating high schools from Oʻahu are ʻAiea and Moanalua.

The court heard State vs. John K. Jardine. Jardine was charged with assault in the second degree. He moved to dismiss the charging document on the basis that it did not “provide notice as to one of the elements of the offense.”

The Circuit Court of the First Circuit granted Jardine’s motion and, upon appeal, the Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal. The state appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

Oral argument was followed by two question-and-answer sessions exclusively for the students – one with the attorneys and another with the justices.

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To prepare for the case, the students studied a curriculum developed by the Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center. Attorneys from the Maui County Bar Association and Hawaiʻi State Bar Association volunteered their time and facilitated a moot court activity where students had an opportunity to argue the case themselves.

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“Courts in the Community gives students a deeper understanding of the judicial process by taking them through an actual Supreme Court case,” Hawaiʻi Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald said. “We consider it one of our hallmark programs because it advances the understanding of the third branch of government by providing greater transparency, which is vital to the future of our democracy.”

Hawaiʻi State Bar Association President Levi Hookano said: “The role of the judiciary and the rule of law is an important part of civics education. … The virtual format gave students from different island communities a unique opportunity to engage with each other and share their thoughts with the attorneys arguing the case and learn of the law directly from our supreme court justices.”

The oral argument was broadcast live by Olelo Community Media and Akakū Maui Community Media. Olelo will rebroadcast the program on the following days/times on cable channel 49 and their website:

  • Dec. 16 at 6 p.m.
  • Dec. 19 at 10:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 20 at 8 a.m.
  • Dec. 21 at 2:30 p.m.
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Please contact the Judiciary’s Communications and Community Relations Office at 808-539-4909 for more information.

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