Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Chief among Law Summer Campers’ Experience at Supreme Court

A group of high schoolers with an interest in law this week came to the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center to explore their legal curiosity.

Eighteen students from Ohio University’s Summer Law & Trial Institute toured the building before witnessing the Ohio Supreme Court’s oral arguments, and spending time with Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.

“I think it’s a really cool opportunity for high school students to see how our legal system works, and how it’s all operated,” said student Elizabeth Vinel.

The trip to the Court was part of an immersive 12-day program that aims to increase understanding of the law and its possibilities among Ohio high school students from southeast Ohio. The program also seeks to foster an interest in all aspects of legal education, service, and issues, and to create the next generation of legal, advocacy, and community professionals.

“I just want to see how politics and law work hand-in-hand to better the country,” said Grace Wharton, another student.

Informally referred to as a summer camp about the justice system, the participants were familiar with the back-and-forth between the justices and lawyers as the cases were presented in the main courtroom, but were fascinated by how quickly the attorneys had to stay on their toes throughout the proceedings. Justices can interject at any point with questions regarding an argument, causing a presenter to quickly change gears.

“I thought it was really interesting how a justice started talking, and the lawyers just instantly stopped talking. They listened and responded to the justice’s questions in a very professional manner,” said student Isaac Martin.

After oral arguments, Chief Justice O’Connor joined the group to share her experiences and observations from her decades of work in the legal profession and public service.

“Don’t think that you have one path to get to be a lawyer, or to go to law school, because there’s not,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. “Our profession benefits by people with varied backgrounds, just as we benefit from all aspects of diversity in human existence.”

Along with stressing the importance of being driven and putting yourself in the best position to succeed, the former lieutenant governor, county prosecutor, and common pleas court judge emphasized the value in embarking on opportunities that aren’t part of a pre-determined path.

“You have to be flexible and open enough to, first of all, enjoy those experiences, and let them affect your plans and your thoughts, and how you develop both as a student, and as a human being,” Chief Justice O’Connor said.

“It’s inspiring for someone like me, who isn’t really sure if they want to go into law. It kind of put reassurance in me that I do want to do this, and nothing can really stop me,” Vinel said.