Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby (left) and Associate Justice Sam Ervin (right) pose for a picture with a Sanderson High School Sophomore at the end of their presentation.

Senior Associate Justice Newby and Associate Justice Ervin visited Sanderson High School in Raleigh this week and challenged students to think critically about their Constitutional rights and the North Carolina court system. Over 60 sophomores in two American History I Honors classes listened and interacted with the justices over a three hour period.

The justices walked students through a criminal case where they were challenged to parse through the limits of government power and an individual’s expectation of privacy. In addition, the justices encouraged students to embrace and not avoid their civic duties once they become adults. Justices Newby and Ervin pointed out that most of the world’s governments are closed to their citizens’ participation, and as Americans, we can contribute to our government through serving on juries and voting in elections.  

“Before I heard our speakers, I thought that a jury didn’t make sense, but now I understand it’s to get decisions from a diverse group of citizens,” said Alison, a sophomore from Sanderson High School.

During a question and answer period, students asked about the duties of a supreme court justice and the role of elections in selecting North Carolina’s judges. The justices described their duties as reading-intensive and illustrated that point by sharing that for each case they hear, they must read a stack of papers approximately waist-high from the floor. On the question on elections, they explained how a supreme court justice must sit for election every eight years, but unlike Legislative and Executive Branch officials, judges don’t run on an agenda or platform. A judge’s ultimate goal is to treat all parties fairly under the law.

Court Categories: Supreme Court