Michigan justices get back on the road

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Michigan Supreme Court justices heard arguments at Hillsdale College Plaster Auditorium on April 26. The event marked resumption of a court outreach program that was halted when the pandemic hit two years ago.
(Photo courtesy of Michigan Supreme Court)

The Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments at Hillsdale College last month before more than 300 area students as part of its 26th Court Community Connections visit — the first since before the pandemic. 

The outreach program, aimed at engaging high school students in learning about the judicial branch, also included a public debriefing session led by former Justice Stephen J. Markman immediately following the oral arguments, during which students asked questions of the attorneys who argued the case. 

“My colleagues and I understand that when we engage the public, we build trust in the judiciary, which is a foundation for democracy,” said Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack. “Taking the court to the people is always inspiring and meaningful, but this visit was particularly special because Justice Markman joined us at a place that is near and dear to him. 

“He has taught constitutional law at Hillsdale College for nearly 30 years, and I was told he has never missed a class!”

Hillsdale County Circuig Court Chief Judge Sara Lisznyai said the day was special “not only the Hillsdale County legal community, but also our community as a whole. 

“This event gave us access to the Supreme Court and it gave the Supreme Court a chance to spend time with the people of our area.”

Students from Camden-Frontier High School, Hillsdale Academy, Hillsdale High School, Hillsdale College, Jonesville High School and Reading High School attended the event while Litchfield High School students participated virtually.

Also in attendance were Hillsdale County judges and local elected officials. 

Following oral arguments, students also had the opportunity to meet and mingle with the justices during a reception.

In preparation for the event, local attorneys volunteered their time to guide the students through the appellate process and the specific case: People of Michigan v David Allan Lucynski. 

“We are honored to host the Michigan Supreme Court and to be able to provide this unique opportunity for our students to witness the judicial process in action,” said Robert E. Norton, general counsel for Hillsdale College. “The ability to ask questions and be ‘up close and personal’ with the highest court in the state may inspire some students to seek a career within the judicial branch, where before they may never have even considered it.”

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