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Bronxville Union Free School District

Bronxville High School Students Attend Court of Appeals Hearing

A group of Bronxville High School students – who had been working with two lawyers to examine the criminal case of the People vs. Otis Boone – attended a New York State Court of Appeals hearing of the case in White Plains on April 25.

“It was an amazing opportunity for the students to experience the appeals court process in person,” said Principal Ann Meyer, who attended the hearing along with teachers Chris Doyle, Steve Klurfeld and Christina Reidel. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Prior to their trip, the students met with Assistant District Attorney John Collins and Legal Aid Society attorney Courtney McGowan, who volunteered to educate them on the difference between a trial and an appeal, as well as explain the specifics of the case and provide a discussion of its presented legal issues. Boone, a black man, was convicted of first-degree robbery in 2012 based on the testimony of two white male victims. The Court of Appeals case focused on whether the jury should have been informed, via charges read to the jury prior to their deliberations, of the cross race effect. The cross race effect is the tendency of a person to recognize individuals of his or her own race more easily than those of another race.

As a result of their meeting with Collins and McGowan, the students were particularly prepared to understand the proceedings. During the hearing, they sat in the jury box, and afterward they had the opportunity to ask the Court of Appeals justices questions, which further added to their comprehension.

“Being at the court in person helped me know the process better – how it functions and how each person argues their side and the judges ask questions,” senior Lindsay Nobles said. “I learned how with each judge, you can't tell what side he or she is leaning toward. The judges are equally harsh to each lawyer. Usually when you hear about cases, it's about what the person did. This one was interesting because it was the workings of the case and how that’s actually a flaw.”

Senior Alex Oman said he thought it was interesting to see how appointed officials handle cases that affect the public in a personal and societal manner.

  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image