October 20, 2023

Supreme Court Goes "On the Road" at Hartford High School

The Vermont Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in three cases at Hartford High School on Thursday, October 26, 2023.

The Justices usually hear oral arguments in the Supreme Court building in Montpelier, but for several years, the Court has heard oral arguments in the fall "On the Road" at a Vermont high school. This will be the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic that the Court has gone on the road.

The Hartford High School auditorium will be transformed into a courtroom for the day so that students and teachers can experience the appellate process. Arguments will follow the same pattern as ones held in the Supreme Court courtroom. Each side will have fifteen minutes to argue its case. The three cases scheduled for oral argument include a criminal case, a tort negligence case, and a Public Utility Commission case.

The goal of this event is to help students understand Vermont's judicial system by providing students with the opportunity to observe the state's highest court up close and to interact with the Supreme Court Justices. For many, the judicial branch is the least understood branch of government, and "On the Road" is a way to show the community how it works.

"We are honored to bring the work of the Vermont Supreme Court to Hartford High School," Chief Justice Paul Reiber said. "I am excited to meet students and I am sure that the Court will learn from them. I hope that students will understand more about the justice system and it might even cause some to gain an interest in public service or a career in the law."

Nelson Fogg, the principal of Hartford High School, has arranged for students from other Upper Valley schools to attend the oral arguments and is excited about the "authentic learning opportunity" provided to students and community members. "This event offers all of us a look at the real work of our judicial system and supports the intersection of this work and student learning."

The students will have an opportunity to interact with the Justices during a question-and-answer session and over lunch.

The public is welcome to attend the hearings, scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. Existing rules of etiquette apply for members of the public and for the media during court proceedings. Everyone will be required to go through routine security screening, so early arrival is advisable.