High school students from all over Inyo County filled the auditorium at Bishop High Thursday to watch a real court in action. It wasnt judge Judy or the Peoples court, the Fourth District Court of Appeals came to town as part of their community outreach program.
Instead of lectures or written legal lessons, lawyers argued real criminal cases before presiding justice Manuel Ramirez and four associate justices. Two separate appeals came before the court as it convened on the stage at Bishop High.
With the lawyers representing prison inmates who had appealed their convictions, the arguments were at times dry and a few heads could be seen nodding off in the crowd. The case details were definitely not dry, however. The high school students in the audience were not spared the graphic and often disturbing details. One case involved a man convicted of kidnapping and rape as part of a reported gang initiation.
The second case, the People vs. McGraw, focused on evidence surrounding an attempted robbery of a cigarette store. Fortunately foul language didnt offend the students, because a commonly used swear word was central to the appellants argument. The word was repeated often by the justices as well as the lawyers.
The justices heard the lawyers arguments on both cases. No rulings were made quite yet, and the justices broke to take questions from the students.