BANGOR — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court convened this morning in Peakes Auditorium at Bangor High School. It was the fourth stop at a high school this month for the court’s seven justices.
Between 300 and 400 students and a handful of community members attended the nearly three-hour session.
Bill Ames, the chairman of the history department, said the entire junior class and about 30 students enrolled in the Senior Seminar course that focuses on government and politics also attended.
“It’s urgent that the kids get to interact with government,” he said. “They see government not as it is written about in some textbook, but in action.”
State Sen. Joseph Perry, D-Bangor, invited the court to hold a session at BHS in February when Chief Justice Leigh I. Safely delivered her annual State of the Judiciary address.
“Working in the Legislature for the past 12 years, it is second nature for me to see the public at hearings and debates,” Perry said earlier this week. “Maine’s legislative process even provides the pubic with several ways to listen or watch debates live online.
“When I learned that there may be an opportunity for a handful of schools in our state to have a better opportunity to see Maine’s Law Court in action,” he continued, “I helped make arrangements for Bangor High School to be considered.”
During a break between sessions, Perry said he was surprised at how often the justices interrupted the attorneys as they argued their cases. Perry, as Senate chairman of the Taxation Committee, said that committee members do not interrupt speakers at Legislative hearings except to tell them their allotted time was up.
The court has gone on the road each fall for the past three years to educate high school students and the public about what it does. The court is visiting five schools this year, up from three last year.
In Bangor, the court heard oral arguments in appeals in three different cases, two criminal cases out of Hancock County and an estate case out of Waldo County Probate Court.
The justices are scheduled to convene in the gymnasium at Shead High School in Eastport at 9 a.m. Thursday.