Oxford County Judge of Probate Jarrod Crockett, second from right, listens as a teacher from Telstar Regional High School asks him a question Friday morning at Mountain Valley High School. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court visited Mountain Valley High School, where they heard three appeals to actual court cases with students from Mountain Valley, Telstar and Spruce Mountain high schools as the audience and Crockett serving as master of ceremonies.

RUMFORD — Students from Mountain Valley High School, Telstar Regional High School and Spruce Mountain High School gathered Friday morning in Muskie Auditorium at Mountain Valley High School to watch the Maine Supreme Judicial Court hear oral arguments on actual appellate cases.

Judicial Branch spokeswoman Mary Ann Lynch said that the state’s highest court has been visiting schools since 2005, traveling from Fort Kent to South Berwick and many towns between to hear oral arguments in appeals of cases.

The first case was that of a Winslow woman’s two dogs being ordered by a judge to be euthanized because they caused serious injury to a person.

Richard Rosenthal, a lawyer speaking for Danielle Jones, the owner of the pit bulls, argued that the trial court made an error by not providing her with a chance to be offered a jury trial, which would require a unanimous decision and the state proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt, while the state said her dogs attacking someone and causing death to an animal was a civil violation, which precluded her from having access to a jury trial.

He also argued that the statute allowing the dogs to be euthanized was too vague.


According to court documents, the dogs are being held at a humane society until the case comes to a resolution.

In the second case, Dubois Livestock, an Arundel company, argued that the Superior Court made an error in declaring that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has the right to inspect the composting facility that Dubois Livestock operates without obtaining an administrative warrant, and that the judgment passed by the court was a violation of Dubois Livestock’s Fourth Amendment rights.

The third case pitted two Wiscasset families against one another. The appellate, Kathleen and Thomas Bryant, argued that the Superior Court erred by upholding a permit approved by the Wiscasset Planning Board that allows Allen and Melissa Cohen to expand a warehouse on their property and use it to store commercial fireworks.

According to the hearing brief, the Cohen’s property is about 600 feet away from the Bryants’ home.

Following the hearings, Judicial Branch spokeswoman Mary Ann Lynch said that the decisions on the cases likely would not be handed down by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court until the end of the year, or possibly January of next year.

She added that the clerks at the Supreme Court would send copies of the decisions to Principal Matt Gilbert, who would distribute them to the students.


Students had a chance to ask the attorneys questions about each case.

Sadie Richardson, a junior from Telstar, said that she found the experience of watching the Supreme Judicial Court “interesting,” and that it was her first time experiencing anything related to the courts, outside of TV and movies.

Gabe Pasternik, also a junior at Telstar, agreed with Richardson that the experience was interesting, adding that he enjoyed it more than he thought he would.

“I appreciated that we didn’t just get a small look at the cases,” Pasternik said. “We got to hear from the justices and attorneys about what was happening.”

He said he also appreciated that the justices did not deliver their decisions immediately after the hearings ended. “It allowed me to form my own opinions about what happened,” he said.

“I think the court likes doing this because it not only allows them to get out of the courtroom, but allows them to see the different schools and meet the students and faculty before the hearings,” Lynch said.


The justices visit schools based on legislative invitations from state senators and representatives.

For Friday’s hearings, the justices were invited to Rumford by Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield, who serves as chairwoman of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.

Keim said she first heard about the program after meeting with Chief Justice Leigh Saufley.

“She told me about the program where the Maine Supreme Judicial Court visits schools and turns the auditorium into a courtroom for the day, and I told her, ‘I want that,’” Keim said.

She said it’s important for students to see “the reality of what goes on in the courtroom” and see “another facet of government.”

“To have the Supreme Court come to them makes it even more real,” Keim said. “It shows them that the law is applicable everywhere, and that it doesn’t just have to happen in a special building. I think it’s such a great opportunity for the students.”


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