TRAVERSE CITY — Court is now in session.
Or at least it will be on Oct. 16 at Traverse City Central High School.
Members of the Michigan Supreme Court are set to visit the high school and hear oral arguments in Maniaci v. Diroff, an appellate case regarding a dispute over a strip of land located on Secord Lake in Gladwin.
“This is just phenomenal. I’m excited for my students to just see the level of debate and discourse that happens in this type of case,” Central AP social studies teacher Paige Paul said.
“Cases that go to the Supreme Court in Michigan are complex and difficult and there’s no easy answer. That’s why they make it that far.”
Christine Guitar, Traverse City Area Public Schools executive director of communications, said she expects about 300 students from Central, Traverse City West Senior High and some Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools students to attend.
Although the Supreme Court usually hears arguments at the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing, the justices and other staff members travel around the state as part of Court Community Connections, a public education program aimed primarily at high school students.
This will be the Supreme Court’s 25th such event.
“Whenever I mention to my students that this is going to be coming, they just light up,” Paul said. “This is right in their wheelhouse.”
Marty Colburn, Traverse City’s city manager, was instrumental in bringing the Supreme Court to town. He said it is a great opportunity for students to understand how the judicial system works and how it interacts with the legislative and the executive branches.
“This is the appeal to the appeal. This is where they’re truly establishing the firm governing and interpretation of the law,” Colburn said.
“I thought it would be great to have a focus on the third leg of that triad of government and realize the legal profession plays a vital role in the development of the original law and the interpretations of that law.”
The announcement of the Supreme Court’s appearance comes just months after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer visited the high school in April. She spoke to students and other community members about her budget proposal as well as her plan to fix the roads and fund K-12 education.
Jessie Houghton, Central principal, said her school is very fortunate to be chosen and is a perfect site to host the event.
Officials from the court as well as the city and local attorneys toured the school in the spring when Central was a candidate. Houghton said they will be able to shut down the auditorium wing of the high school without disrupting normal classes.
“They feel like this is a branch of government that kids don’t often see in action,” she said. “The other two, they very much see and they know. But this side of it, the courts, they really want to bring that to life for kids and show them what it looks like to increase interest and awareness in the process.”
Houghton said as they get closer to Oct. 16, local attorneys will provide some background information on the case and will have the students do some homework on the front end to research was laws are applicable to the case. The justices will also speak with the students in a smaller and more informal setting after the hearing.
“I have a few students here who have an interest in the legal branch, and they’re totally geeked about seeing this in person and getting the opportunity to speak with some of the justices, too,” Houghton said.
The event is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. with oral arguments beginning at 10 a.m. Space is limited, but the hearing can be livestreamed online at https://livestream.com/tcapslive/Court.