• WINTER 2008
  • Educating the Public about the Law



Dr. McKinney-Browning in Qatar.

ABA Public Education Director Helps Launch Civic Education Project in Middle East

Dr. Mabel McKinney-Browning, director of the ABA Division of Public Education, recently traveled to Doha, Qatar with staff from the ABA Rule of Law Initiative to launch a new civic education project. The team is developing the project in collaboration with the College of Law at Qatar University to spread awareness among primary and secondary students in the country on the rule of law. Components of the program will require cooperation with governmental and non-governmental institutions and include a rule of law portal, an electronic tutorial on the rule of law, public service announcements, a pilot classroom-based civic education program, and National Law Day.


Youth Courts Convene First Conference

NAYC Board of Trustees
NAYC Board of Trustees (L to R: Katie Self, President; Gary Kepley, Treasurer; Karen Green, President-Elect; Linda Anson; Anjanette Easch, 2nd Vice President; Johnice Autry; Nancy Livingston, Secretary; Susan Goettsch; Violet Colydas; Sandra Porter-Phillips; Charlsie Cordova; Lessie Penn; Judge Karen Thomas; Judge Richard Couzens; Marlene Todd; John Duncan; Myra Weeks; Glenn Faison; Antonia Hernandez; Kathleen Zeitlin; Lisa Albert-Konecky).

The National Association of Youth Courts (NAYC) held its first national conference December 9–12, 2007, in New Orleans, Louisiana. In addition to national and board committee meetings, participants attended workshops on funding, community service, recruiting and retaining volunteers, recognizing and dealing with gangs, and legal and ethical issues facing youth courts. Plenary sessions offered insights on growing efforts abroad to establish youth courts in Europe and Asia, integrating law-related education in youth court programs, and how recent research results will guide the U.S. Department of Justice in providing policy makers and court practitioners with guidance on building and sustaining youth courts in their mission. The conference was coordinated by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) and sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, and NCJFCJ.

Louisiana Teen Court president Linda Anson hosted the opening evening program. Ms. Marilyn Roberts, deputy administrator for programs at OJJDP and Ms. Mary Mentaberry, Executive Director of NCJFCJ, delivered welcome remarks to more than 150 people representing courts from Alaska to New York and Idaho to Florida. NAYC President Katie Self also offered remarks on the passion of the work done by the thousands of staff and volunteers throughout the country in more than 1,500 youth courts in 49 states. The highlight of the evening included remarks from three young people who shared how their lives had been positively affected by their participation in local programs. One young man is now a longtime youth court volunteer. Another, who attended the event with his mother, indicated how the youth court program allowed him to turn his life around. His mother shared emotional remarks as she expressed her own gratitude for the program.

As part of the official launch of NAYC, the association’s trustee meeting included ratification of the organization’s bylaws and its incorporation and nonprofit status. In addition, reports were given on upcoming events, including the National Drive for
Youth Justice
golf tournament, April 26, 2008, at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in New Mexico. Plans were also proposed for celebrating National Youth Court Month in September 2008 and a National Walk for Youth Justice, planned for April 2009 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

For more information about NYAC, visit


American Mock Trial Invitational

Former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice James H. Coleman Jr. (far right) talks with members of the mock trial team from Madison Central High School in Kentucky who competed in the Second Annual American Mock Trial Invitational.

The North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers and the New Jersey State Bar Foundation invite qualifying high school students to compete against top mock trial finalists from all parts of the world in the third American Mock Trial Invitational (AMTI), May 18–20, 2008, at the new state-of-the-art Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Charlotte, N.C.

AMTI was established in May of 2006 by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers in order to permit high school mock trial state champions with weekend religious obligations to compete in a national forum on weekdays, according to Mary Ellen Tully, president of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation. “We are very pleased to join the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers once again in sponsoring this event, in which mock trial champions can compete and interact in a spirit of mutual respect and goodwill,” Tully said.

Members of the mock trial team from Family Christian Academy in Tennessee react to hearing they placed first in the Second Annual American Mock Trial Invitational.

AMTI is the only nationwide mock trial competition that permits as many as three of a state’s top four mock trial championship teams to participate. A team consists of 7–10 students. All contestants will receive certificates, suitable for documentation for college applications, acknowledging their participation.

Contestants will have the opportunity to try a challenging case, visit a premier outdoor recreation center outside of Charlotte, enjoy a private dinner at and an educational tour of the acclaimed Mint Museum of Art, and stay at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in uptown Charlotte.

The cost to register a team is $200. This includes:

  • Continental breakfasts for team members and coaches on May 19 and 20;
  • Hot buffet lunches for teams, coaches, and guests on May 19 and 20;
  • Orientation dinner for teams and coaches on May 18 (guests may purchase tickets);
  • Private dinner and guided tours of the Mint Museum of Art for teams and coaches on May 19 (guests may purchase tickets);
  • Bus transportation from the hotel to dinners/cultural events;
  • AMTI souvenirs for team members and coaches; and
  • Trial practice rooms for scrimmages on May 18.

Dick M. Taylor, chief executive officer of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, said that both his organization and the New Jersey State Bar Foundation are proud to continue offering a top-notch academic venue for national and international finalists. “We look forward to hosting mock trial champions this May in Charlotte in celebration of the spirit of inclusion that is so important to all of us,” Taylor said.

For more information, contact Liz Avery-Jones, public education coordinator for the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, at 919.835.2808, e-mail, or Sheila Boro, director of mock trial programs for the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, at 732.937.7519, e-mail


Law Day 2007 Award Winners Announced

The ABA Division for Public Education recently announced the winners of the Law Day 2007 Outstanding Activity Awards: the Constitutional Rights Foundation and the bar associations of Houston, Palm Beach County, and New York State. The Law Day 2007 theme, “Liberty Under Law: Empowering Youth, Assuring Democracy,” emphasized the need for all youth to understand their rights and responsibilities under law to become effective participants in our nation’s civic life. Not only did these groups effectively use the 2007 theme in their programming, but they were also able to engage youth and community members alike. (See “Detail” below.)

The Law Day Outstanding Activity Awards program showcases particularly effective Law Day activities and allows us to share them as models with others. Entries are judged on several criteria, including the extent and effectiveness of partnerships formed among community groups, schools, and legal organizations. In addition to being awarded plaques at the ABA Mid-Year Meeting, winners receive gift certificates to the Law Day store and are highlighted in the 2008 Law Day Planning Guide.

The Division recognizes the efforts of the countless contributors to the hundreds of Law Day efforts conducted each year around the nation. To submit entries for the Law Day 2008 Outstanding Activity Awards, go to

More About the Law Day 2007 Outstanding Activity Award Recipients

Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

crfcWith the help of many state and local partners, the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago hosted the 2007 Illinois Youth Summit. This year’s summit provided 1,000 students at 24 high schools with opportunities to better understand how the law can serve their needs and interests by providing them with a voice in our democracy. In December 2006, students selected three issues for study and action: universal healthcare for youth, online student speech rights, and instituting a military draft. During Spring 2007, they researched these issues and conducted related educational service projects. On April 27, student delegates from each school convened at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago with state and federal policymakers to discuss these issues and make policy recommendations.

Houston Bar Association (Houston, Texas)

hbawThe Houston Bar Association commemorated Law Week through a host of activities with the support of numerous community and business partners. Their activities included a Law Day Naturalization Ceremony, in which more than 2,300 new citizens from 100 nations took the oath of allegiance; poster and essay contests for K–8 and high school students respectively; a fun run to raise money for the Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation; a Lawyers Against Waste Committee’s commemoration of Law Day and Earth Day; nearly 60 classroom visits to read and discuss “The Flag We Love” by Pam Munoz Ryan; a Dialogue on Youth and Justice; “Java with the Judges”; speeches to the local law students; and a LegalLine call-in program.

New York State Bar Association (Albany, New York)

nybwThe New York State Bar Association initiated a “Youth Empowering Youth” Law Day program with their Youth Service Advocate Program on Law Day 2007. Through this program, the NYSBA and its partners conferred an honorary designation to youth, ages 10 to 18, who identify needs in state legal offices and then develop and execute projects to fill those needs. The second component of the “Youth Empowering Youth” is a mock trial training video, “Mock Trial 101,” which showcases New York high school students who participated in the 2007 statewide mock trial competition. The video is being distributed to 500 New York high schools to encourage students to join the mock trial team and train first-time members of those teams.

Palm Beach County Bar Association (West Palm Beach, Florida)

pbcbaThe Palm Beach County Bar Association worked with the Paralegal Association of Florida, Palm Beach County Chapter, to provide many opportunities for students and other members of the community to better understand the judicial system. They hosted over 25 mock trials and placed more than 20 speakers in the local schools, reaching more than 1,300 students, and sponsored an oratorical contest for high school students. Attorneys reached hundreds of members of the public through an “Ask-a-Lawyer” booth at the local mall, “Dial-a-Lawyer” program, and legal educational clinics. The bar works with other associations across Florida on the Justice Teaching Initiative, which aims to pair every elementary, middle, and high school in the state with a legal professional.


Street Law: Supreme Court Summer Institute and 2008 Educator of the Year Nominations

streetLawStreet Law, Inc. and the Supreme Court Historical Society will sponsor the annual Supreme Court Summer Institute in two sessions for 2008: June 12–17 and June 19–24. The Institute is open to secondary teachers and supervisors of law, government, and social studies. Participants will spend five days on Capitol Hill and inside the Supreme Court learning about the Court, its past and current cases, and how to teach about them from top Supreme Court litigators, scholars, and educators. Participants will be in the Court to hear the justices announce the final decisions of the term, explore the influence of interest groups on the Court’s caseload, discuss media coverage of the Court with a reporter who covers the Court, and attend a private reception at the Court. For full information and to download an application, go to the website or email Applications and letters of reference must be postmarked by March 10, 2008

Street Law, Inc. is also seeking nominations for the 2008 Educator of the Year Award, an award given annually to exemplary law-related education teachers. Potential nominees include classroom teachers, school resource officers, law students, lawyers, and professionals from community-based organizations and juvenile justice settings. The award will be presented at an awards dinner on April 17, 2008, in Washington, D.C. The recipient of the award will receive a complimentary trip to Washington for the event. For nomination instructions and details about the event, visit the website. The nomination deadline is February 8, 2008. Please contact Deborah Foster ( with questions.


Kenneth LerchieLouisiana Lawyers Laud LRE Teacher

Mr. Kenneth Lerchie, an educator for over 35 years and a teacher of civics, free enterprise and social studies at Caddo Parish Magnet School, was recently awarded the President's Award for Excellence in Law and Civic Education by Val Exnicios, board president of the Louisiana Center on Law & Civic Education. The award was presented in January 2008 at the Mid-Year Meeting of the Louisiana State Bar Association in New Orleans. The Louisiana Center for Law and Civic
partners with the Louisiana State Bar Associationand sponsors an education award to the teachers who promote the practical understanding of, and respect for, the law in the classroom. More



ABA Summer Institute for Teachers

Federal Trials and Great Debates in U.S. History

Washington, D.C.

June 22–27, 2008

Co-sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center and American Bar Association Division for Public Education

About the Institute

Designed especially for teachers of U.S. History, the Federal Trials and Great Debates Summer Institute deepens participants’ knowledge of the federal judiciary and of the role the federal courts have played in key public controversies that have defined our constitutional and other legal rights. The Institute provides secondary school educators with the training and resources they need to engage students in the history of these landmark federal trials:

  • The Aaron Burr Treason Trial
  • In Re Debs and the Pullman Strike
  • The Trial of the Chicago Seven

Participants will work closely throughout the Institute with leading historians, federal judges, and curriculum consultants.

How to Apply

Application materials are available on the ABA Summer Institute for Teachers
Web Site
. Completed applications must be submitted by March 3, 2008, and include:

  • A completed application form,
  • A current resume, and
  • A one-page statement describing the reasons why you wish to attend the Institute.

Participation will be limited to 20 teachers. Travel, lodging, and meal expenses will be reimbursed to Institute participants according to U.S. government per diem rates. For further information, please contact Jim Landman at 312.988.5737.


Law Matters, the news source for the law-related education (LRE) community

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Law Matters, which reports on developments, ideas, programs, and resources in the field of public education about the law, is disseminated three times yearly (fall, winter, spring) by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Public Education.

Chair, Dwight L. Smith
Director, Division for Public Education, Mabel C. McKinney-Browning
Editor, Law Matters, Craig W. Johnson

The views expressed in this e-newsletter are those of the editors and have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association or the Standing
Committee on Public Education.

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