There to Help
~For Law Day, Wicomico County Bar Association brings “at-risk” youth before the bench~
On May 1, 13 underprivileged and “at-risk” children from Salisbury Urban
Ministries Organization encountered the judicial system in a positive light in
an event organized by the Wicomico County Bar Association (WCBA) in recognition
of Law Day.
“It helped expose the children to the judicial system in a positive way,” says
WCBA’s Nancy Cher-noff, who, along with the Honorable Kathleen Beckstead and
Franzella Starkey, planned the event. “It reinforces that the judicial system
is there to help them.”
Ranging in age from 12 to 16, the children began the day by observing
Beckstead’s courtroom. Beckstead addressed them afterward, offering a lesson
in proper courtroom etiquette. A tour of the courthouse rounded out the morning,
while the children were offered various informative presentations after lunch.
The Wicomico County Sheriff’s Department presented an overview of what the
sheriffs’ duties are. The EXILE Program presented the dangers of gangs and
stressed the importance of gang-resistance. The court stenographer explained
her job in the courtroom and also explained to the children the career path of
a stenographer. The day was ended with a tour of the jail.
Each child was also given an assignment – a set of questions requiring answers
drawn from their observations or by asking questions of the presenters – to be
completed throughout the course of the day.
“You could see a difference in the children,” Chernoff notes. “They were proud
The American Bar Association (ABA) recognizes May 1 as Law Day. The ABA
nationally supports programs to educate and enhance the legal profession to
students. Around the state, local and specialty bar associations hold their own
Law Day celebrations. (The MSBA has chosen to hold its own Law Day events later
in the month, to avoid a conflict of interest.) This year, similar programs included:
the Harford County Bar Association, working in conjunction with the JAG Office
at Aberbeen Proving Ground; the Prince George’s County Bar
Association, which hosted a luncheon honoring the competitors in the Seventh
Circuit Mock Trial Competition, had the Honorable Toni E. Clarke speak, and
hosted a Naturalization Ceremony performed by the Honorable C. Philip Nichols,
Jr. Also in Prince George’s County, the State’s Attorney General sponsored a
Law Day directed at students. Topics covered included student safety, careers
and law school admission.
These special days are meant to give the youth a perspective on the legal
profession that they might not see otherwise.