- Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Media Contact for Boston High School Students Celebrate Law Day at Supreme Judicial Court
Jennifer Donahue and Erika Gully-Santiago
BOSTON, MA — A group of 50 high school students from Snowden International School and Another Course to College today participated in Law Day activities at the Supreme Judicial Court, one of several Law Day events happening in throughout the Commonwealth from the end of April through early May.
The theme of this year's Law Day is "Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society", which challenges students to consider the boundaries and resilience of the individual liberties of free speech and free press.
At the John Adams Courthouse, the day began with a theatrical performance by Theatre Espresso called Trial of Anthony Burns, a dramatization of the 1854 trial that prompts students to think critically about the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 in pre-Civil War "free states".
Following the performance, Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Frank M. Gaziano, Appeals Court Associate Justice Joseph M. Ditkoff and Appeals Court Associate Justice Vickie L. Henry spoke to the students in the Seven Justice Courtroom. They educated the students about the three branches of government, the criminal justice system, the differences between trial courts and appellate courts, and the role of the Supreme Judicial Court. They also shared their personal experiences working in the legal profession and as judges, and answered questions from students about the courts and criminal justice system.
Students then met in small groups with attorneys from the SJC Law Clerk Society, who are former law clerks of the court, to discuss the role of courts and the rule of law in a democratic society. The former law clerks led students through a series of hands-on exercises that encouraged in-depth discussions on current legal topics designed to illustrate and emphasize the Law Day theme.
The students also had the opportunity to view exhibits in the John Adams Courthouse, including the John Adams Exhibit Room, where they learned about John Adams and his role as the architect of the American system of government. They also viewed the Sacco and Vanzetti exhibit and learned how a miscarriage of justice occurred in that case and the changes to the system that resulted.
President Dwight Eisenhower established the first Law Day in 1958 to mark the nation's commitment to the rule of law. In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day. Every president since then has issued a Law Day proclamation on May 1 to celebrate the nation's commitment to the rule of law.