Attorneys will make oral arguments today in two Arizona Supreme Court cases, but not from the usual location in downtown Phoenix. Instead, the court will convene in the auditorium at Mesa High School.
"The students are definitely excited about it," said Mesa High student body president Daniel Ash, 18.
He said his Advanced Placement government class studied the judicial system last semester and conducted mock trials, and it will be interesting to compare his class’ performances with the real thing.
"It’s good that we did those mock trials before, because now we’ll see how it’s supposed to be done," Ash said.
Students from Dobson, Red Mountain and Westwood high schools in Mesa also will attend today’s hearings, as well as students from Fountain Hills High School. The public is welcome.
Mesa High principal Pete Lesar said there will be ample room in the school’s 1,200-seat auditorium for everybody, and he expects a good crowd.
"We have a pretty involved community in Mesa that is interested in what’s going on in the city and the state," Lesar said.
Arizona Supreme Court spokesman Tom Augherton said the court travels twice a year to different locations around the state as part of a community outreach program. In April the court will convene at Prescott High School in northern Arizona.
The justices also make one trip each year to Arizona State University in Tempe and the University of Arizona in Tucson, Augherton said.
The first case on today’s docket deals with a criminal suspect’s right to request a new public defender during trial, and the second case considers whether children are able to waive their right to have their parents present during police interrogations that occur at school. In that case from 2002, police in Pima County refused to allow a mother inside the school office where investigators were interviewing her son, who had signed a waiver saying he did not need his parents present.
Advanced Placement government teacher Steve Ramos said the second case has caught the attention of his students, who have already started debating the issues.
"Police are intimidating, especially for a 12-year-old. The students might spill their whole life stories," said senior Gabi Sneeringer, 18, one of Ramos’ students.