Law & Society Witnesses Death Penalty Appeal

Mariana Aguirre & Natalie Li, Staff Writer

Law & Society, an elective course on social politics, is not without its share of fun; the class took an excursion to the California Supreme Court Office in San Francisco on March 7. Students witnessed a death penalty case and received an exclusive tour of the building.

Law & Society teacher Dino Petrocco said, “Law & Society hears a case argued by the California high court. This year, we heard a death penalty appeal, and it was nice to have the kids see what they were actually learning about. We met with Justice Chin’s head attorney and got a detailed tour of the Justice’s chambers.”

The field trip coincided with the class’ study of the death penalty and the 8th Amendment. Petrocco said that the trip acted  “as a culmination of our unit on due process and the rights of the accused.”

The field trip also exposed some truth about actual court proceedings. Senior Mary Youm said that students “saw how being a lawyer in the Supreme Court isn’t as glorified as Hollywood makes it seem. The Justices really destroy you.” Senior Steven Iwata said, “”I was riveted, shocked, hanging on the edge of my seat, listening intently. The Justices were kind of mean to the lawyers.”

The Law & Society class instructs students on the United States legal system through study of court cases and participation in mock trials. Students become well-versed in legal nuances; Iwata aspires to “be the best lawyer there ever was.”

Another class from the Head-Royce School in Oakland also witnessed the case, but did not visit the backstage proceedings.

Although the verdict on the death penalty case will not be released for another month, the class is planning another trip to the California Supreme Court to witness a different case later this year.