CROWN POINT | High school students from throughout Lake and Porter counties joined veteran attorneys and court officials Wednesday in welcoming members of the Indiana Court of Appeals for what educators called a rare opportunity for teens.
As part of the state court's Appeals on Wheels program to educate citizens on the judiciary's role in government, three appellate court judges and attorneys representing the litigants brought arguments in an active case to be heard in the Lake County Government Center.
Among the several hundred attorneys and court officials in the gallery were two well-prepared aspiring attorneys -- currently upperclassmen at Hammond's Morton High School.
"I'll be seeing what I want to do eventually," said senior Antoinette Prieto in high anticipation of actual oral arguments before Judges James S.Kirsch, John G. Baker and Margret G. Robb.
The judges would hear appellant attorney Jill Acklin and Indiana Deputy Attorney Jesse Drum argue the case of a Miami County woman appealing her conviction on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement. The woman was alleged to have resisted officers investigating reports of the woman's dog biting a neighbor.
"I want to see a technical and professional argument," junior Nathan Salamanca said. Salamanca said he, too, has his eye on a legal career and found it interesting the defendant would go so far as to appeal such a charge.
Speaking for the Women Lawyers Association, which hosted the event, attorney Melissa Cohen said the group saw the program as a way to expose students to the way the state's highest courts operate and also to educate lawyers and the community on the process.
"It's our way of giving back to the community," Cohen said.
Appeals on Wheels typically visits high schools, colleges, law schools and courtrooms but also goes to conference centers, tourist sites and even retirement centers, according to information provided by the association, which had provided study guides to prepare students at the 13 high schools invited to Wednesday's arguments.
The event also drew court officials from both counties, some of whom attended for the first time, and saying they intended to attend again.
The court has conducted more than 370 Appeals on Wheels between its 2001 centennial and December 2013. However, the program predates the centennial.