MSBA President Thomas C. Cardaro urged
A.J. Bellido de Luna of the University of Maryland School of Law brought a background in law enforcement to his discussion on
On Wednesday, May 12, 2010, the Maryland State Bar Association's (MSBA) Public Awareness Committee celebrated Law Day with an engaging event at the Sheppard Pratt Conference Center in Baltimore. This educational event, focusing on "The Bill of Rights in the 21st Century", drew more than 150 students and teachers from all across the state.
The day's events began with open remarks from MSBA President Thomas C. Cardaro, who stressed the importance of the Bill of Rights in everyone's lives and urged the attendees to "think about which Amendment is important to you."
helps show the public that lawyers do more than just practice law."
Chair, MSBA Public Awareness Committee
In his keynote address, Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, Court of Appeals of Maryland, underscored the dynamic nature of the Bill of Rights. "The United States Constitution was an amazing document," he told those in attendance, "but it was not a perfect document. It was the Bill of Rights that brought it closer to perfection."
Afterward, the students and teachers were given a glimpse into the major role the Bill of Rights plays in their lives through a series of informative breakout sessions, each focusing on a specific amendment. Session topics included the landmark case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, "Search and Seizure – The 4th Amendment" and the highly-popular "Welcome to the Online Jungle: Your Rights in Cyberspace", which addressed a multitude of legal issues pertaining to Internet usage. William McComas, a Partner in the law firm of Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler, P.A., who led the "Cyberspace" session, felt the students brought a "passion and enthusiasm for the subject matter."
"They were awakened to the risks of the Internet," he said. "With the risks of the Internet, there is a glaring gap with our youth."
Rick Miller, Executive Director for the Citizenship Law-Related Education Program, beamed at the overall high degree of interactive participation throughout the day. "The students were engaged," he remarked. "They asked good questions."
"Law Day helps show the public that lawyers do more than just practice law," said Alice Chong, Chair of the Public Awareness Committee, whose members themselves led a breakout session entitled "The Practice of Law and the Bill of Rights." "Attorneys want to be involved with the community."
Attorney Tony Depastina addressed "Freedom of Religion - The 1st Amendment" in areas such as schools and the workplace.
The morning's educational programs were followed by lunch, after which the program instructors fielded students' questions during a plenary session. The attendees were then treated to a screening of 10 of the 19 videos submitted for this year's MSBA Video Contest. This year's contest challenged participants to produce a one- to three-minute video dealing with one (or multiple) Amendments in the Bill of Rights. The videos were divided into two age categories: Over 18 and Under 18. Fifteen videos were submitted for the Under 18 category, and four for Over 18.
Law Day attendees were shown the top six Under 18 videos (based on judges scores) and the four Over 18 videos. The People's Choice voters then selected the three videos they liked the best, with a group of students from Church on the Rock Christian Academy ultimately taking home the People's Choice Award.
The MSBA Public Awareness Committee enhances the public's understanding of the law through community education and outreach. In addition to its annual Law Day activities, the Committee also features a Speakers' Bureau, which places attorneys with community groups to inform them on the laws, and oversees the production of its Public Awareness Brochures, a series of 24 brochures offering information on a variety of basic legal topics, which are disseminated to the public free of charge.