The role of the Appellate Court is to analyze a specific disputed issue that came from the trial courts. The three roles, Appellants, Respondents, and Justices, work to decide a legal issue that will effect the future rulings of the lower courts.
This year, the case before the Appellate Court involves a 19 year-old female hacker. The People vs. Chelsea Korwarch is about, “a 19 year old girl. She is like a computer genius, she owns a website on the dark web which sells Nazi memorabilia, guns, drugs, hackers for hire,” says Sakthivel Murugan from the Fremont/Newark delegation.
Chelsea Korwarch, the defendant, put a hit on a police officer and the police officer was killed. Korwarch was charged with conspiracy with killing a police officer and got the death penalty.
The Appellate Court is asked to decide if the defendant should get the death penalty or not because the officers may have violated the Fifth Amendment by ordering the defendant to incriminate herself by entering the password into her computer.
The Appellants try to, “alter a decision that was made in a lower court,” says Appellant Calvin Santoscoy from Sacramento Central delegation. The Appellants are trying to convince the Justices to overturn the conviction and order a retrial because certain crucial evidence should not have been introduced at trial.
If, in getting the evidence, the police officers violated the defendants constitutional right against self-incrimination, the evidence should have been excluded and any verdict should be overturned. The Appellants must compile trial briefs, search for legal arguments, and anticipate counterarguments.
On the other side of the table, the Respondents are seeing to, “uphold the decision that was already made in the lower courts,” says Respondent Julia Han from the Torrance- South Bay delegation. The respondents argue that it was lawful for the officers to force the defendant to give up her password, and not a violation of the Fifth amendment, because the officers eventually would have broken into the computer.
Whether or not the police action was a constitution violation will be a decision left for the Justices. The Justices, “ask a bunch of questions, so when the respondents give their big speech, we get to interrupt them at any time to get more clarification on the case. We want to know how actually well you know the case and the actual content of their argument,” says Justice Sakthivel Murugan from the Fremont/Newark delegation.
The parties will make their arguments and the Justices will make their decision Sunday, February 18th, 2017.