Students impressed by court hearing

On May 12, 2011, in News Stories, Newsroom, by youngadmin

By Katie Hetrick
Press & Guide Newspapers

DEARBORN — Efficient, thorough and aggressive were among the words high school students used to describe justices and attorneys involved in a Michigan Supreme Court hearing held in Dearborn on Tuesday.

Hundreds of students from Dearborn, Edsel Ford, Fordson, Divine Child and Henry Ford Academy attended the hearing at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

Attorneys and justices sparred for less than an hour during a hearing to determine if a Detroit case should get a full appeals hearing.

The seven justices were quick to interrupt attorneys to ask questions and argued a number of finer points about the case. The appeal hinged on whether a jury should have ever been told that in some self-defense cases a person first has a duty to retreat. The retreat provision does not apply if a person is in their home and feels threatened with death or severe bodily injury.

Learning about complexities of judicial role

“That makes me realize how difficult their job is,” said Amanda Bazzi, a Fordson High senior.

“There’s so much middle ground,” said Eric Reilly, Dearborn High senior.

Such a narrow point about how the jury was instructed grew to great significance.

Reilly said of the justices, “Their boss is the law. They need to ask these questions.” Husain Bazzi, also from Fordson, was impressed by the details the justices knew about the case such as questions the jurors asked the judge during deliberations.

Amanda Bazzi referred to the disagreements about how well jurors understood that the man be-ing on his porch was the same as being in his house in regards to whether he had a duty to retreat.

“When you say some-thing in court, you have to be very precise in what you mean,” Amanda Bazzi said.

Students discuss case

For Husain Bazzi it was more important that the defendant allegedly stood and said, “I’m tired of this” before shooting his two neighbors as they stood on his property. Violence should not be used to solve problems, he said.

Reilly agreed.

“I don’t think the shooting was justified,” he said.

Meara Thierry, from Edsel Ford, found it just as interesting to have talked to justices, the mayor and others during a special reception for a few select students before the hear-ing.

“They are regular people, just like us,” she said. The hearing was also eye opening.

“I learned a lot about the whole legal process,” Thierry said. “I’d never even thought about the appeal process.” Ali Chamoun, a Dearborn High senior, said the hearing was a great opportunity for students who might be considering a legal career.

After the hearing ended and justices had left, he was among numerous stu-dents who asked questions of attorneys from each side.

He asked Prosecutor Toni Ann Odette if she was nervous since it was her first time arguing before the Supreme Court. He noted that she seemed so young to be such a great attorney.

Fordson sophomore Fa-tima Hammoud said teachers had discussed the case in class.

Spending the day out of class was fun “because we get to learn how the Su-preme Court works,” Hammoud said.

Students ask attorneys questions

Dearborn School Board President James School-master, also a local attorney, moderated the student questions after the hearing.

He fielded a question about why only one judge tries a case, three sit on the appeals board and seven are on the Supreme Court.

He noted that the judge trying the case is deciding the facts about whether a person is guilty. That is more straightforward than higher courts, where judges have to decide more intricate questions of law.

Before the hearing began, Chief Justice Robert Young said he hoped the hearings might encourage some students in attendance to become lawyers.

He also noted that while trial courts get lots of attention on television dramas, the higher courts, while less dramatic, have a broader reach.

“Our decisions can have an impact on people’s lives for years to come,” he said.

Published: Wednesday, May 11, 2011