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Pennsylvania Celebrates Law Day 2005

In partnership with local bar associations, the PBA held its sixth annual statewide Law Day effort titled “Free to Make a Difference.” Kicking off at the end of April with events throughout the state and continuing through May 30, the Law Day celebration brought together hundreds of judges, lawyers, legislators and schools to help children learn about the law and our country’s strength and history. The program reached thousands of Pennsylvania students.

To kick-off the statewide celebration of Law Day, the PBA visited Monroe County on April 29 to take part in the Monroe County Bar Association’s annual Law Day activities. Each year, MCBA attorneys and judges present a “fairy tale” trial at the Monroe County Courthouse to fifth grade students from around the county. Many characters have been put on trial on Law Day through the years, including the Big Bad Wolf, Pokemon and Darth Vader. Over 550 students attended the April 29 trial, Commonwealth v. Malfoy, which was a criminal assault case based upon the Harry Potter novels. Attorneys played the victim, defendant and witnesses, and a judge presided over each trial. The students serve as the juries.

Following the trial and a luncheon for participants, a formal Law Day Ceremony was held at the Courthouse with local judges and attorneys. Then-PBA President Michael Reed spoke to the crowd about the statewide Law Day program and commended the MCBA for its activities. Other speakers included Monroe County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Ronald Vican, MCBA President Mark Love and MCBA Law Day Chair Robert Maskrey Jr. The ceremony also featured remarks by the winners of the Liberty Bell Award and the annual essay contest for high school students.

As part of the statewide program, lawyers, judges and legislators visited classrooms across the commonwealth throughout the month of May to talk with students about the law. Many local bar associations hosted Law Day festivities, including courthouse tours and mock trials for students, Law Day luncheons and judicial visits.

The PBA offered a new lesson plan guide again this year focused on the theme, “Free to Make a Difference.” The Law Day 2005 K-12 Lesson Plan Guide was made available free-of-charge to educators, lawyers and judges. The lessons, which are matched with the state’s Academic Standards for Civics and Government, are still available on the PBA Web site at www.pabar.org/05ldinfo.asp.

The statewide Law Day program in Pennsylvania is coordinated by the PBA Law-Related Education Committee and is funded by the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation.