Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Students Participate in New Supreme Court Civics Education Program

Image of a woman in a business suit speaking to a classroom of students

Franklin County attorney Patricia Davidson speaks to students at Westland High School.

Image of a woman in a business suit speaking to a classroom of students

Franklin County attorney Patricia Davidson speaks to students at Westland High School.

Students from Westland High School in Galloway and London High School participated in the first Courtroom to Classroom program with the Ohio Supreme Court.

The innovative civics education program allows students to watch live stream video of Supreme Court oral arguments online in their government classes while working with local attorneys to learn more about the judicial system through a Supreme Court case.

Last week, two local lawyers, Patricia Davidson from Franklin County and Emily Davidson from Madison County, met with law and government students in each school to discuss the particulars of the court case Arlie Risner v. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. Patricia Davidson also volunteers as a tour guide at the court’s Visitor Education Center.

The justices on Feb. 25 heard oral arguments on the case, which was about whether an Ohio statute prohibits the Department of Natural Resources from imposing fines on a hunter if it has already confiscated a deer killed illegally.

The students watched the case arguments in class and then were debriefed about what they saw with the same attorneys who led discussions last week. They were encouraged to ask questions about the case arguments.

Kim Frase, a teacher from Westland High School, said the experience was amazing. She said her students were able to apply what they learned in class “with a whole new perspective.”

“I seize any opportunity to make learning come alive,” Frase said. “But this experience was especially unique because it allowed an interaction with the real world that is nearly impossible to recreate in the classroom alone.”

Frase’s students agreed that the program helped them understand the judicial system better.

“It was fun to see government in action because before this I never got to see how it really works. You just read it in a textbook,” said Andrew Russell, a senior.

“Taking a potentially complicated, confusing matter like an Ohio Supreme Court case and making high school students actually care and understand it is not easy. This is exactly what this program did,” junior Josh Binion said.

Binion said the attorneys who led their class discussions helped him comprehend the oral arguments.

“This understanding led to a desire to make our own opinions on the case,” Binion said. “The sessions helped make the case feel personal, which raised our level of interest. The debrief session helped to smooth out questions about their arguments that would have otherwise made the case hard to understand.”

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said the civic education program is another way to teach students about the judicial branch without having to worry about financial barriers.

“This is a fantastic program that allows students to learn more about the Ohio Supreme Court without having to leave their classrooms,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. “Students have the opportunity to learn about a case, watch it through oral argument, and discuss it with real attorneys.  That is a fabulous opportunity to see the justice system at work.”

Frase said the program helped bring the judicial branch to life for her students who may otherwise not appreciate how government works.

“Some of this indifference stems from a feeling that government is a ‘far away’ intuition that doesn’t really impact individuals, especially the youth,” Frase said. “It’s programs like this, however, that could bridge that gap and awaken students to paths in life that they may not have considered before.”

The teachers and attorneys who discussed the case with the students will be notified when the court’s decision on the case is announced.