High school students learn more about West Virginia's Supreme Court of Appeals

·3 min read

Mar. 23—MORGANTOWN — High school students from Monongalia and Preston counties gathered at West Virginia University's College of Law to hear arguments in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia cases.

On Wednesday in the Marlyn E. Lugar courtroom, students were invited to participate in the Supreme Court's Legal Advancement for West Virginia Students, or LAWS, civics program. Since LAWS was established in 1999, more than 6,500 students in 40 counties have participated in the program. Supreme Court of Appeals Beth Walker said the program is to help educate students and get them involved.

"We like to educate everyone. We have a lot of students that come to the Capitol and visit our courtroom. This is just another way to tell people how our courts work and, of course, for high school students, it's an opportunity to get them interested in careers in law," Walker said.

Students were split into two groups — a morning and afternoon group — with two schools per group. Students from Morgantown High and Clay-Battelle High watched a 10 a.m. Rule 20 Argument in the case City of Charleston v. Robert Romaine, No. 21-0776, and a 10:40 a.m. Rule 19 Argument in State of West Virginia v. Tremaine Lamar Jackson, No. 21-0738. Students from University High and Preston County High watched an 11:15 a.m. Rule 20 Argument in State of West Virginia v. Justin Conner, No. 21-0323, and an 11:55 a.m. Rule 19 Argument in State of West Virginia v. Adonne A. Horton, No. 21-0532.

Local attorneys visited each school prior to Wednesday to help students study cases and break down any legal jargon, then attended the arguments hearings with students. After the cases, each group was invited to talk with attorneys who argued each case in a question and answer session.

Students wanted to know what the next legal steps will be in each case, how each criminal defense attorney knew they wanted to pursue a legal career and how they defend someone with different morals or ethics than them.

Students seemed curious to learn more and were eager to ask thought provoking questions. Two students from University High — senior Alexandra Kokosko and junior Hannah Hughes — said they really enjoyed what they had learned and were considering studying political science in college or pursuing a career in the legal profession. They both were eager to sign up to attend Wednesday's event through their AP Government class.

Hughes and Kokosko said listening to each argument was interesting because it seemed unbiased.

"They didn't necessarily argue whether the client was guilty or innocent, it was a lot of almost technicalities that they would argue on, like the wording of a bill," Kokosko said.

Kokosko said she was already planning to minor in political science in college, but is definitely considering it as a career, now. Hughes said she is still figuring out what her plans will be when she graduates in a year.

"I have about another year to truly decide my major, but I've always been very interested in the medical field. This whole experience made me consider possibly doing both medical school and law school, to focus on malpractice trials, which I think would be really cool," Hughes said.

Reach me at sshriver@timeswv.com or 304-367-2549.