The Vermont Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in four cases at Middlebury College on Wednesday, January 15th.
The Justices normally hold term in the Supreme Court building in Montpelier. In March each year, the Justices travel to Vermont Law School to hear cases and for the past three years, the Court has held a term “On the Road” at a Vermont high school. This will be the first time that the Justices will hear oral arguments at Middlebury College.
Wilson Hall will be turned into a courtroom for the day so that students and professors can experience the appellate process. Arguments will follow the same pattern as ones held in the Supreme Court courtroom.
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. Some of the students attending are currently taking a class at Middlebury entitled “State Supreme Courts: How They Work and When They Don’t,” and taught by retired Justices John Dooley and Marilyn Skoglund.
“The Court appreciates Middlebury’s invitation to have hearings on its campus,” Chief Justice Paul Reiber said. “The Court hopes that this event will inspire students from the college and surrounding high schools to better understand the contributions of lawyers and judges in furthering the rule of law and to learn more about Vermont’s judiciary.”
“We are pleased and honored that the Vermont Supreme Court is coming to our campus,” said President Laurie Patton. “It offers a rare opportunity for our students and community members to learn more about Vermont’s judicial system by experiencing the appellate process in person."
“We are also grateful that the justices are willing to engage in a Q&A session with our students and other students from local area high schools,” added Sue Ritter, Middlebury special assistant to the president and the organizer of the event. “We deeply appreciate the efforts of the justices and the court’s staff to make ‘On the Road’ such wonderful educational opportunity for all of us.”
The students will have an opportunity to interact with the Justices during a question-and-answer session and during lunch.
The public is welcome to attend the hearings. 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 an early arrival is advisable.