News Item
Minnesota Supreme Court Convenes at New Prague High School

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Over 600 students observed oral arguments in the auditorium as the Minnesota Supreme Court convened at New Prague High School today in an effort to open the doors of the Judicial Branch to the public. An additional 550 students will view the arguments via live television in their classrooms.

The state's highest court heard oral arguments of an actual case, State of Minnesota, Respondent vs. Michael Stanley Zabawa, Appellant  (Case No. A09-1041), which was tried in Olmsted County District Court.  The Court generally issues its opinions four to six months following oral arguments. 

"These visits are one of many ways the Judicial Branch helps Minnesotans better understand the courts and the justice system," said Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson. "Visiting high schools is especially important because it puts the court in front of young people who are still learning what it means to be part of a democracy based on the rule of law."

"Reaching out to the people we serve has long been one of the Court's highest priorities.  Meeting students and answering their questions helps foster an understanding of the Judicial Branch. At the same time, the Court has the opportunity to learn from their perspectives and life experiences. For all parties involved, it's a valuable exchange."

Attorneys from the Minnesota State Bar Association volunteered to visit classrooms prior to today's program to review the case with students and help them prepare for the Supreme Court visit. 

Following today's arguments, the justices answered students' questions on a wide variety of topics. Justices, First Judicial District Court judges, and other distinguished guests ate lunch with New Prague students.  Justice Christopher Dietzen addressed members of the New Prague Area Chamber of Commerce and the New Prague Rotary Club at a joint luncheon at the New Prague Golf Club.  In the afternoon, justices visited classrooms at New Prague High School and New Prague Middle School. 

Since the Supreme Court convened oral arguments in Rochester, MN, in 1995, the school visits have taken center stage in the Court's efforts to build the public's trust and confidence in the judiciary.  The New Prague High School event marks the 31st oral argument for students.