Oct. 16, 2006

Minnesota Supreme Court visits Hutchinson High School

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

McLeod County students had a rare opportunity to witness the Minnesota Supreme Court in action Wednesday, when the court convened at Hutchinson High School.

The court heard oral arguments in an actual case, All Parks Alliance for Change, Petitioner, v. Uniprop Manufactured Housing Communities Income Fund, d/b/a Ardmor Village, Respondent.

The event was the 24th in-school oral argument for the court, and the first time the court has visited the First Judicial District since the court visited Hastings in 2002.

The program bringing the court to Minnesota schools began in Rochester in 1995.

Hutchinson High School Principal Ron Johnson welcomed the court and visitors, and introduced First Judicial District Chief Judge William Macklin.

Macklin gave students a brief description about how the 150-year-old Minnesota court system works, explaining the difference between the District Court, Court of Appeals, and the Minnesota Supreme Court. He also explained how cases are brought before the Supreme Court, noting that, of the 2 million court cases in Minnesota each year, only about 150 make it to the Supreme Court.

The court was then convened, and heard oral arguments in the case.

The plaintiff asked the court to overturn the ruling of the lower court.

At issue was the time restriction placed on the distribution of non-commercial materials and information in a mobile home park, and a “do not call” list maintained by the management.

The fact that mobile home parks are private property was also a factor in the case.

The plaintiff in the case did not disagree with the trial court’s finding of fact or conclusion of law, only the order that was issued.

The plaintiff asked the court to either throw out the earlier court ruling, thus eliminating the restrictions, or to expand the hours during which materials could be distributed in the park to allow distribution from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Sunday, and eliminate the “do not cal” list.

During the presentation of arguments, the justices actively engaged the attorneys, frequently asking them to clarify or defend their positions.

Students followed the proceedings closely, and seemed to particularly enjoy it when Justice Alan Page asked the defendant if the restrictions also apply to trick-or-treaters (they do).

Following the oral arguments, the justices participated in a question and answer session, taking turns answering student’s questions.

The entire program was broadcast on the Hutchinson Community Video Network.

Following the program, the justices ate lunch with Hutchinson High School students, and spent the afternoon visiting several other area schools.

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