For 16-year-old twins Jessie and Jordan Haylor, participating in a recent Maui Youth Alliance visit to 2nd Circuit Court in Wailuku was eye-opening. “It was such an incredible experience being able to converse with Judge Peter Cahill,” Jessie said. “I was unaware of the occupation of child advocacy, which truly interests me. I also learned about the Hawaii legal system, which is important for upcoming laws such as the new information regarding medical marijuana.”
Jordan said he saw the state’s criminal justice system at work. “I learned from this visit how criminals are prosecuted,” he said. The students in the Youth Alliance – a Maui Economic Development Board project to empower high school aged leaders – spent one morning observing 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill preside over a variety of cases. His morning court calendar included granting an early dismissal of a man’s five-year probation; allowing a drug felon to take prescribed medicinal marijuana to treat a physical ailment; and a change of plea from a couple who chose not to contest welfare fraud charges. “I visited the courts once before for a law class I was in and this time we saw a lot more interesting cases, and I learned more because of the diversity,” Jordan said.
After the proceedings, Cahill, a lawyer with three decades of experience and now two years on the bench, met with the Youth Alliance members. “One is not better than the other. They’re different,” Cahill responded to Jordan’s question about whether he had a preference between serving as a lawyer or a judge. Jessie said she came to appreciate the criminal justice system. “I believe we are quite blessed to have such a justified legal system,” she said. With Cahill’s help, Jordan said the youths were able to compare the American justice system with those in other countries. Jessie said the visit to the Wailuku courthouse was her first Youth Alliance event, and she’s eager to participate more in the future. Jordan agreed. “Youth Alliance has helped open my eyes to how we can better our community and become more independent,” he said.