Bar News - November 16, 2016
Court News: NH Supreme Court on the Road
By: Melanie Plenda
Students from several Nashua-area high schools attended NH Supreme Court oral arguments as part of the Court’s annual “On the Road” event, which this year was held Oct. 13 at Bishop Guertin High School.
NH Supreme Court Associate Justice Carol Ann Conboy answers a student’s question during the 17th annual On the Road event at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua.
Photos courtesy of the NH Judicial Branch
From pinning down the finer points of the cases before them to asking whether their presence in the room spooked the judges, Nashua high school students recently had a chance to pick the brains of some of the best legal minds in the state.
On Oct. 13, students from Bishop Guertin, Nashua North and Nashua South high schools had the rare opportunity of having the New Hampshire Supreme Court visit to hear oral arguments for two appellate cases before them during the New Hampshire Supreme Court On the Road event. These events, held at a different school each year, mark the only time the court ever convenes outside the Supreme Court building in Concord.
The oral arguments follow the same pattern as those held at the Court in Concord. Both sides are given 15 minutes for argument and to answer questions from the justices. What is different about On the Road is that once arguments in the case are done, the justices leave the bench while the lawyers answer questions from the students. When arguments and questions for both cases are concluded, the justices return to the stage and take questions.
The students in Nashua asked whether the justices typically come into oral arguments with their minds already made up about the case they are going to hear. Chief Justice Linda Dalianis said that while the justices may have a sense of which way the case should go based on the reading and research they do prior to the oral arguments, rarely if ever do they have their minds made up.
“We don’t decide cases in advance,” Dalianis said. “We might come in and hear oral arguments and change our minds. It’s a very fluid process.”
Another student asked whether hearing oral arguments in front of students changes the way they prepare or compose themselves during the actual arguments. Associate Justice Robert Lynn said the justices and attorneys are used to holding court for the public.
“We are focused,” he said. “It doesn’t really affect what we are here to do.”
The justices heard two cases while they were On the Road in Nashua. In State v. Kyree Rice, Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Lahey argued that Rice, who shot Curtis Clay twice during a fight between Clay and Rice’s brother at a Manchester restaurant in 2014, was not denied due process when the trial judge chose not to allow evidence of the victim’s drug use prior to the fight and not to give a jury instruction about deadly force at trial. Appellate Defender Christopher Johnson argued in defense of Rice’s appeal of one attempted murder and two first-degree assault convictions.
They also heard arguments in State v. Remi Gross-Santos. In this case, a judge convicted Gross-Santos of second-degree assault and transportation of alcohol by a minor after he fell asleep at the wheel and struck two pedestrians, seriously injuring them.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan McGinnis argued that the judge in that case was right to allow admission of a marijuana grinder found in Gross-Santos’s car following the accident, was correct when he found that the police officer at the scene had probable cause to arrest the defendant for driving under the influence, and that the defendant’s arguments on appeal were not properly preserved.
Appellate Defender David Rothstein argued Gross-Santos’s appeal.