hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

May 9, 2012

Students take their arguments to court

By Alex Lippa
alippa@hgazette.com

Cranton receives Liberty Bell Award

The Haverhill Bar Association presented the 2012 Liberty Bell award to Joan Cranton during the Law Day festivities.

Cranton has been a member of the Santa Parade Committee for the last 25 years and is a member of the board at the YWCA, among other philanthropic activities she does in Haverhill.

Thomas Sullivan, a Haverhill lawyer and fellow member of the Santa Parade Committee, presented the award to Cranton.

The Perry v. Brown case is very likely to go before the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest of courts, before the end of the year. But before it reaches that level, it is getting some local attention.

The case was argued at Haverhill District Court by two high school students.

Haverhill High students Lyndsey Grundy and Joe Sherlock each took a side in the landmark case and presented their arguments to judges Stephen Abany and Patricia Dowling. The mock arguments were part of the Haverhill Bar Association's annual Law Day.

"We've been involved in Law Day before," said Haverhill High teacher Robert Pike during the students' presentation Friday. "But we've never played as big a role as we have today."

The case argued by the students regards the controversial Proposition 8 issue in California. In 2008, that state passed a ballot initiative which said that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. After several trials and hearings, that election result was overturned this past February as an unconstitutional amendment.

Grundy and Sherlock each had five minutes to make their cases to the judges. Grundy argued on behalf of the state of California, while Sherlock argued the side of Kristin Brown, a California woman who was denied a marriage license. Both "lawyers" were then asked questions by the judges to gather more information before making their decision.

The judges huddled briefly before Abany read their decision. They upheld the ruling by the California courts.

"Once a right is given to someone, it is unconstitutional to then snag that right away from them,'' Abany said.

Grundy and Sherlock are seniors in Pike's constitutional law class at Haverhill High. Before Friday's event, organizers from the Haverhill Bar Association asked Pike if his class could do something special for Law Day. Pike and his class then decided on doing mock oral arguments in front of "Supreme Court" judges played by the local judges. The class wanted to argue a case receiving Supreme Court attention recently, and decided on this case over the "Obamacare" case.

After the verdict, Sherlock and Grundy talked about the importance of being able to argue the case.

"Cases that determine the rights of minorities are incredibly important,'' Sherlock said. "It's essential to our country."

"It definitely opens our eyes a little wider than it usually would," Grundy said. "This issue is definitely a hot topic.''

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Cranton receives Liberty Bell Award

The Haverhill Bar Association presented the 2012 Liberty Bell award to Joan Cranton during the Law Day festivities.

Cranton has been a member of the Santa Parade Committee for the last 25 years and is a member of the board at the YWCA, among other philanthropic activities she does in Haverhill.

Thomas Sullivan, a Haverhill lawyer and fellow member of the Santa Parade Committee, presented the award to Cranton.