Hawai‘i Supreme Court Holds Oral Argument at UH Hilo

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The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court heard oral argument on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo as part of the Judiciary’s Courts in the Community outreach program.

More than 270 students from Waiākea High School, Laupāhoehoe Community Public Charter School, Hilo High School, Honokaʻa High & Intermediate School, Hawaiʻi Academy of Arts and Science Public Charter School and Connections Public Charter School attended to enhance their understanding of the Judiciary’s role in government and its function in resolving disputes in a democratic society.

The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court convenes in schools to hear oral arguments in cases pending before the court. This is the 10th argument in the program, which began in 2012.

Maui County police had arrested Thomas A. Russo, 39, the publisher of Maui Time, on Nov. 20, 2012, for three alleged offenses, including obstruction of government operations, resisting arrest and harassment.


The incident stems from an attempt by Russo to allegedly videotape a traffic stop that took place along Haleakalā Highway.

To prepare for the Courts in the Community program, the participating juniors and seniors from each school studied a curriculum developed by the Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center and the Students for Public Outreach and Civic Education of the University of Hawaiʻi’s William S. Richardson School of Law. Attorneys from the Hawaiʻi County Bar Association also volunteered their time and facilitated a moot court activity in the participating classrooms, where the students had the opportunity to argue the case themselves before attending the Courts in the Community event.

“Our Courts in the Community program provides students with a chance to go beyond the textbooks by observing a real Supreme Court oral argument,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “Through this experience, we hope that the students learn about the constitution, the role of courts, and the importance of the rule of law. That understanding is vital to the future of our democracy.

“I would like to extend a special mahalo to the teachers, the Hawaiʻi County Bar Association, the Hawaiʻi State Bar Association, the Hawaiʻi State Bar Foundation and the dozens of volunteer attorneys who helped make this happen,” added Chief Justice Recktenwald. “These invaluable partnerships are what make the program a success.”


The Hawaiʻi State Bar Association and the Hawaiʻi State Bar Foundation provided the students with lunches and transportation to and from their schools on Hawaiʻi Island.

“I’d like to thank our attorneys who enthusiastically volunteered to visit participating classrooms for pre-event discussions and preparations,” said HSBA President Nadine Y. Ando. “It was exciting to see the students intently following the arguments and asking very probing questions after the official court proceedings.”

“The Hawaiʻi County Bar Association appreciates this opportunity to work with Big Island teachers and students,” said Hawaiʻi County Bar Association (HCBA) President Jeffrey W. Ng. “As attorneys, one of the most beneficial things we can do is provide our community with information on how our justice system works. Through the Courts in the Community Program, students gain knowledge and experience that they may use as leaders of tomorrow. The HCBA would like to thank everyone who made this day possible, with special thanks to the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court, volunteer attorneys, teachers and school administrators, and the students themselves for being such enthusiastic participants.”

The court heard oral argument in the case of State v. Russo. Oral argument was followed by two separate question-and-answer sessions for the students—one with the attorneys and another with the five justices.


Questions or concerns contact the Hawaiʻi State Judiciary Communications and Community Relations Office at (808) 539-4909.

Maui Time Publisher Arrested Filming Police

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