University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa law students had front row seats as the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court took a recent case to William S. Richardson School of Law, specifically so that students in the Evening Part-Time Program would have a chance to see the high court in action.
The students heard a lively session in which the justices actively questioned attorneys about whether 25 seconds is adequate time for several “knock and announce” actions before police officers with a search warrant broke down the door of a suspected meth house.
While the justices took the case under advisement to make a decision, the court experience listening to arguments in an actual case was especially interesting for law school student Mark Clemente, who hopes to go into criminal law.
“This gives us an opportunity to learn things that otherwise we’d have to wait to learn after we graduate,” said Clemente, who works during the day as a member of the full-time staff at the State Legislature. “It’s significant for the Supreme Court to hold oral arguments at the law school because the evening part-time students don’t have the same opportunities as the day students to get exposure to the legal field.”
Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald launched the program to bring oral arguments to the law school when he became chief justice nine years ago, and he and his judicial colleagues have continued the program and hear arguments at the law school at least once every year since.
“We have a great relationship with this law school,” he said, praising Dean Avi Soifer’s leadership over the years and the good planning by the Evening Part-Time Program administrators who put that day’s session together.
“Our ties goes back to the beginning of this law school,” he continued, mentioning the four new judges he swore in two weeks ago who are Richardson alumni, as well as the ongoing assistance by law students who regularly brief high school students on cases as part of the ‘Courts in the Community’ program that Recktenwald also launched.
—By Beverly Creamer