Ashtabula County Students Inspired by Justices' Work at Off-Site Court
By Csaba Sukosd | April 26, 2019
Buses from all over Ashtabula County made their way to Geneva High School this week, as the northeast Ohio community hosted the Ohio Supreme Court's oral arguments.
"I've watched 'Law & Order' before, and it's definitely nothing like that," said Isabella Golen, a student at Lakeside High School.
More than 600 students from eight area high schools saw the justices in action as they heard three cases during the 76th edition of the Court's off-site program.
"It was really cool because the lawyers had to be snappy, right on it. Even a couple of times [the justices] caught them off guard," said Edgewood High School student Carter Andes. "It's pretty scary being up in front of the justices, I would imagine."
After each hearing, students found out what those lawyers were thinking and feeling during a detailed debrief about the case they witnessed.
"It's good asking them questions because they're the ones who have done all the research," said Jayvon Riddle, who attends Lakeside High School. "So, then you ask them questions on how could this have been prevented."
As informative as it was for them to see justice play out in person, the highlight for many students was talking to the justices before court was in session. Along with learning about how the justices discuss and handle cases, the teens discovered what led each person to the state's high court.
"There are a lot of parts of our society that have suspicion of our courts, that lack confidence in our courts, and I want to work on policies that improve upon that," Justice Michael Donnelly said to the students.
Holding a position that serves all Ohioans, Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor stressed the value of an open and transparent judiciary.
"It's probably one of the most important and sacred things about being a judge is public trust and confidence," Chief Justice O'Connor said.
While many of the messages were based more broadly, at least one student was directly impacted by Justice Melody Stewart's distinct path from an undergraduate degree in music to decades of distinction in the legal profession.
"What you will ultimately become or do will change over time, and you will find yourself in places where opportunities or doors will open and you'll go, 'Hey, I like that,' or, 'I'll be good at that,'" said Justice Stewart.
"I've always thought of going into law myself, but I love my cello and I love playing," said Alexis Fisher, an Edgewood High School student. "So, thinking of what she did, that I can also follow in her footsteps, it was just great and inspirational."