Alaska Supreme Court heads to Colony High School Wednesday morning

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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - The new location may be very temporary, but it's a new home nonetheless.

The Alaska Supreme Court is headed to Palmer Wednesday morning via the Supreme Court LIVE Educational Program, launched in the Last Frontier in 2010 to bring oral arguments in actual pending cases to students at Alaskan high schools.

"It's the first time the Alaska Supreme Court has done a Supreme Court LIVE event in the Valley, "said Brendon McMahon, Colony High School Principal, "so Colony is excited to be the host of this big event."

The court is set to hear an oral argument for a real-life pending case in front of an audience primarily made up of high school students.

"The ones that are being prepped for government and civics careers are excited, because they've done some pre-work on the case that's being tried here," McMahon said. "They're especially excited to be a part of that."

The case, Robert Riddle, dba Fairbanks Pumping and Thawing v. Eric Lanser, is essentially a property dispute. Riddle is the owner and operator of a septage hauling company, that moves exrement and other waste materials contained in or removed from septic tanks. The case shows that Riddle stored stocks on land he'd used to grow crops and raise livestock. He also applied some of the septage as fertilizer.

Lanser purchased nearby land and constructed houses on that property.

But Lanser and other landowners were unhappy with odors coming from the Riddle storage facilities and farm, filing a complaint and asking a judge to order Riddle to stop the odor. Riddle raised a defense based on a law protecting farms, but a superior court judge ruled the law didn't specifically protect him.

Riddle has appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court seeking to reverse the court's ruling.

The debut of the Supreme Court LIVE program was at West High School in Anchorage on February 19, 2010, according to the Alaska Courts website. More than 400 high schools from across the Anchorage School District were in attendance.

The second program was in front of 600 students in Juneau, also in 2010. Since then, Supreme Court LIVE has also been in Fairbanks, Sitka and Barrow for a total of 10 events in the past.

"It's a huge deal, especially for us being in the Mat-Su," McMahon said. "To our kids to see this in person, it will come to life for them I think.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.

The program has included advance visits to multiple classrooms by volunteer attorney teams, who provide overviews of the legal system and appellate and an in-depth review of cases to be heard. Wednesday's event is set to end with question-and-answer sessions with attorneys arguing the case, as well as members of the Supreme Court.

The event, which will take place at Colony High School in Palmer from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday morning, is open to the public, but there is limited space. The event will be held in the school's main gym. Attendees are also encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes early for security screenings.

A case summary is available here.