Last year’s “Law in Your Everyday Life” Law Day video contest was so successful that MSBA’s Public Awareness Committee (PAC) is arranging a return engagement for this popular public education program. This year, the Association’s Law Day competition will focus on the importance of our country’s Bill of Rights and the individual rights it affords us as American citizens. This entertaining public education initiative enables MSBA to effectively reach out to young people across the state, enlighten them about the law and advance their understanding of our democracy.
This year’s Law Day contest, to be launched later this month, will invite young people, and all members of the public, to select one of the first ten Amendments – whether it is the right to free speech, the right to free religion or the right to bear arms – and depict its meaning in a creative one to three-minute video. The Amendment may be portrayed in either a contemporary or historical context, but the video needs to capture the essence of the freedom it gives American citizens. Winners will receive a cash prize and a trip to MSBA’s Annual Meeting in Ocean City next June for the awards presentation.
The Bill of Rights empowers Americans with our individual rights and freedoms. This sacred document, embedded in the U.S. Constitution for well over 200 years, is the foundation that preserves our rights as American citizens as well as our democratic way of life. But today, how many Americans – particularly young people – even know what these first ten Amendments are or what protections they impart?
Thus, to help Maryland’s youth gain insight into, and a better understanding of, the value of our Bill of Rights and its impact on our daily lives as Americans, MSBA’s PAC is first asking the public to consider several provocative questions as a prelude to tackling the video contest:
- In your opinion, what is the most controversial Bill of Right?
- Which Bill of Right will be the biggest issue in the next few years?
- Which Amendment has the biggest impact on you as citizen?
- If people could vote to abolish one of the Amendments, which one would it be?
To promote the contest, MSBA’s Public Awareness Committee will once again air a public service announcement, to debut later this month, featuring MSBA President Thomas C. Cardaro and MSBA’s President-Elect Thomas D. Murphy. Both bar leaders offer insight on the Bill of Rights and invite the public to enter the contest, produce a short video on the importance of one Amendment of the Bill of Rights and submit it to MSBA for a chance to win a cash prize.
Last year, then-President Katherine Kelly Howard unveiled the Association’s first video contest as a public education initiative for Law Day 2009. The project, which included the contest and a special Law Day Conference in May, proved so popular that Cardaro, with the support of the Public Awareness Committee and the Citizenship Law-Related Education Program, is bringing it back this year.
“Members of the community, students, legal professionals and citizens of Maryland showed a genuine interest in last year’s video project and its ‘How Law Affects Your Daily Life’ theme,” reports Alice S. Chong, Chair of MSBA’s PAC, who was pleased with the success of Law Day 2009. “Our submissions ranged from middle and high school students to attorneys and other members of the public.” She expects more submissions this year with the Bill of Rights focus.
“President Cardaro’s support of public education programs like our Law Day project is very valuable,” Chong adds. “It enables MSBA to continue its public education efforts in the community and serve as a liaison between the legal profession and the public.”
The “Bill of Rights” video contest will officially begin on January 1, 2010, and run through April 1, giving young people, and all interested members of the public, three months to create and produce their video. Eligible contestants include residents of Maryland, students of a Maryland school, college, university or law school and all attorneys licensed to practice in Maryland. (All young entrants under the age of 18 at the time of the entry must have their parent’s permission plus written parental consent to enter this contest.) For more details, visit www.msba.org/?billofrights.
There are three categories in which entrants may compete:
- Under 18. Prize 1: $500; Prize 2: $300; Prize 3: $200.
- 18 and Older. Prize 1: $500; Prize 2: $300; Prize 3: $200.
- Law Day Choice. Prize 1: $500; Prize 2: $300; Prize 3: $200.