Thanks to a local Bar Association, 400 high school students were able to observe a session of the Wyoming Supreme Court at a high school, as part of their “You Be The Judge” presentation, connecting judges to the community.
At Sheridan High School the five justices heard an actual oral argument, witnessed by students from five high schools in Sheridan County, and invited school and government officials, attorneys, and judges. The series of public events started with an evening activity at the college, where the public had a conversation with the justices regarding their positions, and members of the community were asked to make informed decisions about cases.
The court did not expect to make a decision in the presence of the students, only the oral arguments were heard. Afterward, the justices were able to have a more informal discussion with the students. Students asked questions on anything from defining the characteristics of a good justice to explaining eminent domain.
The justices each took turns sharing their hopes for what the students would take away from the event.
Justice William Hill wanted the courts understand that the courts everywhere are open to them.
“I want you to remember that if you are interested in what lawyers do and what judges do and how law develops, all you have to do is go to court,” he said. “All of your Wyoming courts are open to the public whether you come sit down and watch us or you go to Judge (John) Fenn, this is true all over Wyoming. You’re not going to get a very good idea of it from watching television, and if you watch Judge Judy or Judge Herold or whoever, you might as well put on the cartoon channel. That is television. That is not what really happens.”