BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Established in 1999, Legal Advancement for West Virginia Students or the LAWS program has been giving students around the state a chance to participate in a real court setting.
On Tuesday, October 18, over 400 high students got to observe real West Virginia court cases heard by the Supreme Court of Appeals in the Woodrow Wilson High School auditorium. Students around Raleigh, Fayette, and Wyoming counties were in attendance.
The students were given the chance to unpack the case and learn about how the state’s real court system functions.
“Civics is always very important, the students need to learn the three branches of government, and we try through these interactive kinds of programs to teach them about the judicial system,” West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice John Hutchison says.
A total of four cases were heard throughout the day. The cases ranged from a hit-and-run incident from a car wreck to animal cruelty, among other arguments.
Chief Justice John Hutchison and Justice William R. Wooten of Raleigh County, along with Justice C. Haley Bunn of Wyoming County helped explain the cases to the students.
After studying the cases on the docket ahead of time, the students got the chance to hear how the argument is carried through by actual attorneys. They then got the chance to question the attorneys about the case in point.
“Reading about it in class, going over it with our class, I was interested in it, I didn’t know how it would play out but there were a lot of details we weren’t sure of so it was really nice getting to hear the full case,” says high school senior Chole Pritchard.
“The only exposure we get to the court system is through media and television and stuff, so it’s really great to get to see the justice system in person and see how these court filings actually work,” says another high school senior at the event, Ty Eller.
“Yeah, like he said, we get to see how they work, we only get to see what’s on the news, we never really get to see what’s on the inside and what’s really said to make those decisions,” adds senior Kayley Bane.
Since 1999, over 6,000 students have took part in the program in 35 counties.
All of the cases the students heard today are up before the Supreme Court.
The LAWS docket will be recorded and uploaded to the West Virginia Judiciary Youtube channel.