Law Day Around Georgia

Here are just a few of the activities that happened in Georgia this year celebrating Law Day:

 

Fairy Tale Trial by Judge Jeffrey Bagley

On May 15, 2017, as a closing event to our extended effort to celebrate Law Day, I presided over the fictitious—but highly significant—case of Bear versus Locks. The dispute, which is inspired by the fable of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, was argued by local elementary school students over the course of a half day in a mock trial in the Forsyth County courthouse.  A 45-second video was posted to Twitter about the mock trial, see: https://twitter.com/GACourts/status/869930090372755458.

 A slightly longer video of our mock trial is available here: https://goo.gl/V4fZkM.

Each side exercised their advocacy skills as they gave oral arguments and called on witnesses. I swore witnesses in and explained basic courtroom procedure to the students, in order to simulate a real trial. The students were encouraged to critically analyze their opposition’s arguments, which lead to a lively debate on the merits of the case. Some students even asserted that their opponent’s claims were “ridiculous,” and were excited by the opportunity to argue against their peers.

Throughout the morning, students received civic lessons, and left the courthouse with a first-hand understanding of what it means to resolve a dispute in the United States judicial system. In addition to the mock trial, I visited the students at their school and spoke about the 2017 Law Day theme, the Fourteenth Amendment.

Further, the students were presented with a Law Day art contest, for which they were asked to create art inspired by the Fourteenth Amendment. Three students were named winners of the art contest and were invited to the Law Day luncheon where I awarded them individual medals, as recognition for their hard work, creativity, and understanding of the United States Constitution and Fourteenth Amendment. Their art was also displayed in the Forsyth County courthouse, which can be viewed here: https://goo.gl/VKbtnL.

The mock trial is organized annually for grade-school students, in an effort to engage them with the law and basic civics. Forsyth County is a northern suburb of metropolitan Atlanta. All of the students who participated in the mock trial this year came from the local community in Forsyth County.

 

Day on the Bench in the South Georgia Circuit

To commemorate Law Day this year, Chief Justice P. Harris Hines of the Supreme Court of Georgia visited the Grady County Courthouse in Cairo, Georgia, which is part of the South Georgia Judicial Circuit.

Judge Heather Lanier from the South Georgia Superior Court, Judge Joshua Bell from the Grady County Juvenile Court, and myself welcomed to Cairo the Chief Justice and two members of the Georgia House of Representatives, Darlene Taylor of Thomasville and Jay Powell of Camilla. Representative Powell delivered the starting keynote address.  In addition, Linda Klein—President of the American Bar Association and resident Senior Shareholder in Baker Donelson’s Atlanta office—delivered welcoming remarks to a courthouse audience through video. 

The Law Day program, titled “A Day on the Bench,” filled the Grady County Courthouse. The courthouse audience observed criminal and civil legal proceedings presided over by Judge Lanier and myself, before hearing from Justice Hines and engaging him with questions. One of our local news publications, The Thomasville Times-Enterprise, wrote an article about the Chief Justice’s visit, see: https://goo.gl/8Ld8Az.

In his closing remarks, Justice Hines reflected on his 22 years as a Supreme Court Justice—and his previous service as a Superior Court and State Court judge—as he discussed the significance of the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice Hines emphasized that the United States Constitution is an unparalleled democratizing force in the world, and that the Fourteenth Amendment vests in the American people the power and responsibility to improve the rule of law. Justice Hines said that the Fourteenth Amendment is a commitment to the people of the United States that everybody is entitled to equal protection and a just and fair government and judicial system. He reminded the audience that every citizen is “indispensable to a free and just society.”

Judge Bell called the Fourteenth Amendment the “powerhouse” amendment of the United States Constitution. In particular, he drew attention to the Equal Protection Clause and its impact on juvenile justice. Juvenile judges protect children’s innocence, Judge Bell said, and without the Fourteenth Amendment we would still be struggling to adequately protect all of our citizens equally.

Linda Klein underscored the Fourteenth Amendment as the cornerstone of civil rights in the United States during her address, and thanked the Cairo community for earnestly participating in the program.

Justice Hines as the highest-ranking judge in the state of Georgia, along with two elected state legislators, travelled to Cairo to remind us that each judicial circuit forms the bedrock of American society. Our courtroom audience received a charge from Justice Hines to work better and harder as citizens to improve the rule of law, before the day concluded.

A video recording of the speakers’ remarks is available here: https://goo.gl/rUWsrZ. Local media coverage of our Law Day event is available here: https://goo.gl/Pzswsc.

 

Art Contest

The Judicial Council/AOC, along with the Georgia Council of Court Administrators and the Georgia Department of Education, sponsored its first Law Day Coloring/Poster Contest. The contest was divided into four categories: Pre-K thru 2nd Grade; 3rd Grade thru 5th Grade, Middle School, and High School. Students in the Elementary schools were asked to submit coloring sheets based on their grade level; middle and high school students were asked to submit original posters based on the ABA theme. 

The JC/AOC contracted with an illustrator to create two coloring sheets based on the ABA theme “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy.” The sheet for younger elementary school students asked students to color in the Judge and a diverse group of jurors. The second sheet for upper elementary students asked students to draw ice cream scoops of similar sizes for three students.

The submissions were first reviewed by JC/AOC staff, then were judged by members of the Judicial Council at its April 28, 2017 meeting. First, second, and third place winners have been invited to attend the August 9, 2017, Judicial Council meeting in Atlanta. Winners received a “scales of justice” trophy and first place winners in each group receive a $10 gift card to Walmart.

Over 2,500 coloring sheets and over 50 original posters by middle and high school students were submitted from every corner of Georgia including public, private, charter, church, and home schools.

Details of the Law Day Coloring/Poster Contest: http://georgiacourts.gov/content/law-day

Results of the Law Day Coloring/Poster Contest: http://journal.georgiacourts.gov/article/law-day-coloring-contest

 

Twitter Town Hall

The Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts (@GACourts) sponsored #AskGAJudges, a Twitter Town Hall, on May 9, 2017 to celebrate Law Day.  The American Bar Association's theme for Law Day was "The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy.”
 
Chief Judge Stephen Dillard (@JudgeDillard), Judge Carla McMillian (@JudgeCarla), Judge W. Allen Wigington (@judge_wigington), and Judge Steven Teske (@scteskelaw) spent an hour answering questions about Georgia courts, what it is like being a judge, and offering general advice for law students and lawyers.

View it at https://storify.com/ashleystollar/askgajudges-lawday-edition

Contact AOC

Administrative Office of the Courts 244 Washington Street, SW Suite 300 Atlanta, GA  30334

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