Justices Give Minden Area High School Students a Lesson in Civics Education

Justices Give Minden Area High School Students a Lesson in Civics Education

Justices Give Minden Area High School Students a Lesson in Civics Education

Homecoming enthusiasm filled the Minden High auditorium with school spirit as students, attorneys, and Supreme Court justices settled in for arguments in the case of Justeen Williams (Appellant) v. Scott Frakes, in his official capacity as Director, Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, et al. (Appellee).  The appeal was from the District Court for Lancaster County.

Prior to the argument session, Minden District Court Judge Terri Harder took the stage to offer introductory remarks and provide background on the process of appeal. Harder explained the Nebraska court system, putting the argument session in context for the students.  After acknowledging the visiting schools, she provided a local civics lesson outlining the parameters of Nebraska’s 10th Judicial District introducing County Court Judge Tim Hoeft, area attorneys, and court bailiff Kelly Hartman.

Following the argument, students spent the balance of the morning asking questions of the justices.

Three high school visits are held annually through the Court’s outreach program. The Court will head to Sidney in May to mark Law Day 2024. The Court will also visit an Omaha area school after their annual arguments at Creighton School of Law, followed by the third visit in fall 2024. The Court is invited by schools that want to host an oral argument – which requires an auditorium stage with a court bench and heightened security, with the State Patrol treating the space as an official state courtroom. 


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FEATURED in the Minden Courrier on October 10, 2023:

MHS Hosts Nebraska Supreme Court

Cindy Ramsey

The Minden High School Auditorium was turned into a courtroom on October 6 as the Nebraska Supreme Court held a court argument session at the school as part of its educational outreach program. MHS seniors along with students from Axtell, Blue Hill, Franklin, Hastings, Kenesaw, and Wilcox-Hildreth and members of the public attended the event.
The Court was invited by MHS American Government teacher Aaron Martin to hold oral arguments at the school. Nebraska State Patrol and Minden Police Officers were on site to provide security for the event as the auditorium was used as an official state courtroom.

Following an introduction and review of courtroom rules by High School Principal Don Hosick and MHS junior Sam Cederburg, Tenth Judicial District Judge Terri Harder spoke to the audience about the judicial system and the Nebraska Supreme Court’s visit to Minden. The Nebraska Supreme Court Justices leave their chambers in the state capital each year to visit Creighton Law School and UNL Law School as well as three high schools to raise awareness of court processes and the importance of civics education. Since 2016, Minden High School is the smallest school the Nebraska Supreme Court has visited to hear cases.

Harder gave a brief explanation of the difference between trial court and appellate court, how a case makes it to the Supreme Court, and the process used by the Supreme Court for hearing a case. The term ‘arguments’ is a bit misleading she explained as there is no screaming or yelling. Arguments in court are a discussion of the facts and the law of the case being heard.

Originally two cases were scheduled to be heard in Minden, but one case was granted a continuance. MHS senior Jessie Tunnell, as special bailiff for the day, helped call the court to order. The Justices introduced themselves to the audience before the case of Williams v. Frakes (Lancaster County) was argued.

At the conclusion of the arguments, students were given the opportunity to ask the Justices questions to learn more about the legal process and the pursuit of a career in the legal field.

The full event can be watched on the Whippet Nation Network YouTube channel: Nebraska Supreme Court Argument - Minden - YouTube


Photo: The Nebraska Supreme Court hears an argument and answers student questions as part of its outreach argument program in October at Minden High School.