The 16- and 17-year-old students from seven Hawaiʻi public high schools solemnly took their places in the William S. Richardson Law School’s formal Davis Levin Livingston Courtroom at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus. Within minutes they launched into a trial.
For the next three hours, the 16 high school students became attorneys, witnesses, a plaintiff and a defendant in a mock trial about cyberbullying by classmates—arguing two sides of a topic that resonated deeply with young people in this internet age.
It was the final day of the free weeklong Law and Justice Summer Program at the UH law school. Led by Associate Faculty Specialist Liam Skilling, the program introduces high school students to the legal profession.
“This is the fifth year of this program, and each year the high school participants challenge us to keep up with their curiosity and commitment to learn about the legal system,” said Skilling, director of both the law school’s evening part-time program and academic success program. “[UH law] students act as coaches and mentors as the high school students prepare for the mock trial.”
Participating high schools included Farrington, Kaiser, Kalani, Mililani, Moanalua, Roosevelt and Waipahu.
During the weeklong program, the students also met Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, as well as Associate Justices Sabrina McKenna, Paula Nakayama and Michael Wilson.