State Supreme Court justices visit center

Photo by Daniel Heraty

The seven members of the Michigan Supreme Court took part in a case review Tuesday at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center that was attended by students from six high schools in Dearborn. The court comprises Justices Mary Beth Kelly (left), Stephen Markman, Michael Cavanagh, Chief Justice Robert Young Jr., Marilyn Kelly, Diane Hathaway and Brian Zahra.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Students from six schools throughout the city saw the state’s justice system in action Tuesday at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

For about an hour, the seven Michigan Supreme Court justices reviewed a case as part of a program called Court Community Connections that is designed to educate high school students about the legal system. Afterward, students were invited to question the prosecutor, Toni Ann Odette, and the defense attorney, Marla McCowan.

“Through this process,” Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. said in a statement, “students not only learn about the appellate process, they get to see it in action. “My fellow justices and I are very grateful to Dearborn’s educators and students, 19th District Court judges and staff, the city of Dearborn and local attorneys for making this event possible.”

Justices heard arguments in the case of People v. Richardson, in which the defendant, Donald Richardson, shot and wounded two people who were standing outside the defendant’s home in Detroit in September 2008.

The defendant said one of the people he shot was hitting his screen door with a baseball bat, and were threatening him and his wife. After escorting his wife into the house, Richardson allegedly pulled out a gun and shot one of the neighbors four times and another twice. Richardson then allegedly reloaded the gun and waited on his porch for police and an an EMS unit.

He was convicted by a jury of assault and felony firearm and now is in prison. In an appeal, Richardson argued that the judge did not properly tell the jury about self-defense and whether he had the right to retreat from the attack.

After the case review, some students said they were glad to be there, and that they gained a new perspective on how the state Supreme Court works. Eric Reilly, an 18-year-old Dearborn High School senior, said he thought the review was efficient.

Amanda Bazzi, a 17-year-old senior at Edsel Ford High School, said she appreciated how well-versed the attorneys were.

“It shows you need to really articulate what you mean,” she said.

City residents also were in attendance, as were 19th District Court judges Richard Wygonik, Mark Somers and William Hultgren.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at