Hands-on training in civics and courtroom drama set for high-schoolers

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Jun 4, 2015

Newly admitted students tour the William S. Richardson School of Law Library.
Newly admitted students tour the William S. Richardson School of Law Library.

Incoming juniors and seniors from Farrington, Waipahu, Roosevelt and Kamehameha high schools will have a unique opportunity next week to learn about civics from William S. Richardson School of Law professors and students, and Hawai‘i judges, when the Law School at UH Mānoa launches a new five-day summer program for high school students.

The week-long program, “The Richardson Law and Justice Summer Institute," will augment high school civics education, especially in the public schools, and also will offer students hands-on experience in a dramatic courtroom proceeding of their own making.

The innovative program will take place from Monday through Friday, June 8-12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, and will include bus transportation and refreshments arranged by the Law School.

Similar legally related summer enrichment programs are offered at some of the nation's top institutions, such as Stanford, Yale and American University.  While some of these programs cost in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, for its inaugural year, the Law and Justice Institute will be free for all participating Hawai‘i students.

“There’s a sense that there’s less opportunity for students today to learn about civics in their school settings,” said Liam Skilling ’07, who has led development of the new institute at the William S. Richardson School of Law throughout the past year. He had assistance from law students Matthew Sylva ’17, Sarah Nishioka ’17 and Mark Lee ’18; Jane Dickson Iijima, a faculty member at the UHM College of Education; and Ramona Hussey, ’89. Skilling is Director of the Evening Part-Time Program and Academic Success; Hussey is Assistant Director of the Evening Part-Time Program, as well as Administrative Director for Student Services.

“The overall purpose is to introduce high school students to issues of law and justice, build their skills in discussion, research, debate, analysis and advocacy, and to provide the inspiration for them to become active and involved citizens," said Skilling.  “Students who participate will gain skills as well as increase their sense of empowerment. We hope this is not only something tangible to put on their college applications, but also an experience that helps make higher education and even the legal profession seem more attainable.”

Along with lessons in civics, the high school students will sit in on Circuit Court proceedings, visit with several judges, and hear from retired Hawai‘i Supreme Court Associate Justice Simeon Acoba, as well as Hawai‘i Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, who will present them with certificates of completion at the end of the week.

Additionally, they will be taught by Law School faculty Ken Lawson and Melody MacKenzie, and Dean Avi Soifer, and they also will spend time with Admissions Director Elisabeth Steele Hutchison and law students, who will provide a campus tour.

Said Dean Soifer, “Liam and his team of faculty advisors and community volunteers such as retired Judge Leslie Hayashi, Judge Karen Ahn, Judge Edward Kubo Jr., and Matt Mattice from the Judiciary History Center, have volunteered their time to create a first-rate opportunity for our high school students.  It is safe to assume that this summer program will be a great success and only the start of something that will be important for years to come.”

On Friday, June 12, the final day of the five-day institute, the high school students will take their places as judge, jury, defendants and plaintiffs in a mock trial of their own creation.  The trial is expected to begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Law School’s Moot Court Room.  Media are invited to attend.

For more information, visit: https://www.law.hawaii.edu/