Date: April 21, 2004
Court Public Information Officer
(603) 271-2646 x 359
Supreme Court “On the Road” Special Session May 6 at Keene State College
CONCORD—Hundreds of high school students will
attend a special session of the New Hampshire
Supreme Court on May 6 at Keene State College as part of the court’s ongoing public outreach
program designed to enhance understanding of the judicial system.
The event will be held in the Main Theatre of the Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond on the Keene State campus and attended by students from 11 area high schools and Keene State. The justices will hear oral arguments in two actual cases now pending before the Supreme Court. After each argument, lawyers in the cases will take questions from the student audience. Following the court session, the justices will answer questions from students about the work of the Supreme Court and the judicial branch.
The Supreme Court launched its “On the Road” program for high school students in May 2002 at St. Anselm College in Manchester. Since then, sessions have been held at Dartmouth College, Dover High School and Plymouth State University. These unique events provide students and community members an unusual opportunity to see the state’s highest court up close and learn about its work through a dialogue with the lawyers and the justices. The “On the Road” program is the only occasion when the court convenes outside the Supreme Court building in Concord.
Prior to each session, volunteer lawyers from the participating communities visit each of the invited schools to discuss with students in advance the legal issues and proceedings involved in the cases that will be heard by the court. Among the volunteer lawyers participating in the program this year is Attorney General Peter W. Heed who will be meeting with students from Keene High School.
Keene State College President Dr. Stanley J. Yarosewick will make opening remarks at the May 6th event which begins at 9:30 a.m. and will be moderated by Chief Justice Robert J. Lynn of the Superior Court. All the formal protocols of courtroom procedure will be followed during the special session. There will be 25 seats available to the general public on a first-come first-serve basis. All visitors must be in their seats at 9:15 a.m. to allow for security procedures.
Preparations for the event at KSC were conducted by the Judicial Branch Public Information Office working with Michael Matros, the Director of College Relations, Redfern Arts Center Events Manager Brendan Denehy, Technical Operations Manager Cheryl Perry and Amanda Warman, director of campus security.
The first case to be heard by the court on May 6, State of New Hampshire v. Troy W. Zwicker, No. 2003-0082, involves search and seizure questions and speedy trial issues in connection with felony drug convictions. A key issue in the case is whether the possession of “shake,” the seeds, stems and stalks leftover from marijuana production is enough to constitute a felony charge for possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
The question presented on appeal in the second case, Alaina Sweeney v. Ragged Mountain Ski Area, Inc., No. 2003-0719, is whether a New Hampshire law that protects ski areas from lawsuits for injuries suffered by skiers using the ski area also protects them from lawsuits brought by snow tubers. Sweeney, who suffered a head injury when she collided at high speed with another snow tuber at the end of her run, argues that snow tubing isn’t skiing because tubers can’t control their speed or direction, don’t take lessons and don’t choose their equipment. A lower court judge dismissed her case finding that while the law does not specifically refer to snow tube runs, the language in the statute made it clear that lawmakers expect those who engage in ski area activities to assume the risks and dangers involved.
High schools participating in the May 6 event are Keene, Hinsdale, Fall Mountain Regional, Wilton-Lyndeboro, Monadnock, Conant, Mascenic, Hillsboro-Deering and Conval, Dublin Christian Academy and The Dublin School. Home schooled students and participants in Keene State College's paralegal studies certificate program have also been invited to attend.
In addition to Attorney General Heed, the volunteer lawyers participating in student preparation for the event are Christopher F. Wells; Michael P. Bentley; Janice Peterson; Mark Fernald; William Cleary; Beth Fernald; Ted Parent; Margaret-Ann Moran, District Court Judge L. Phillips Runyon III; and Probate Court Judge Albert H. Weeks.
Summaries of the cases to be heard by the Supreme Court are available at www.courts.state.nh.us/press/keenecasessum.htm
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