Fifth graders win SBM?s first annual Law Day Contest

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A group of talented fifth graders from Cranbrook’s Brookside Elementary in Bloomfield Hills has won the State Bar of Michigan’s first annual Law Day Contest.

The group, led by attorney advisors Gerard Mantese and Theresamarie Mantese, submitted a 26-minute video re-enactment of the Roosevelt Newett defamation trial. The trial was the subject of a 1986 State Bar Michigan Legal Milestone. Contest entrants had to link this year’s Law Day theme “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom” to one or more Michigan Legal Milestones.

For their efforts, Brookside Elementary received a $1,000 grand prize award that was presented by SBM President Julie Fershtman on Thursday, May 10. They donated their prize to the Early Childhood Center at Hamtramck Public Schools.

Brookside student winners included Mahshad Afshar, Sydney Allison, Grace Coleman, Matthew Forbes, Spencer Forbes, Gabrielle Gross, Sofie Harb, Zehra Husaini, Emily Jones, Swathi Karthik, Isabel Mantese, Claire Pearce, Kareem Rifai, Hanna Rodriguez, Sierra Safian, Surina Sheth, and Paige Tar.

“The students captured the spirit of the contest’s 2012 theme,” said SBM Law-Related Education and Public Outreach Committee Law Day Subcommittee Co-Chair Bart O’Neill. “The acting and production were impressive, as was the obvious research that went into these students learning about this 1913 case.”

Former President Theodore Roosevelt sued George A. Newett, publisher of the Iron Ore, an Ishpeming newspaper, for libel because an article in Newett’s newspaper had accused Roosevelt of getting “drunk ... and not infrequently.” Newett later acknowledged that he was mistaken and Roosevelt withdrew his claim for damages and was awarded the nominal sum of six cents by the jury.

This year’s Law Day contest was the first in what the State Bar expects to make a long-standing yearly tradition.

“Committee members hope that many lawyers, students, and community groups will watch the winning video and plan now to enter the contest next year,” SBM LRE-PO Committee Co-Chair Margaret Krasnoff said. “It would be great to see entries from groups in different parts of the state, and projects from groups working together on interactive or cooperative contest entries.”
The SBM LRE-PO Committee organized the Law Day contest as a means to ensure that lawyers continue to serve as the chief educators about our country’s system of justice.

“Lawyers, as ‘Officers of the Court,’ play a crucial role in reminding the public that our country is based upon the U.S. Constitution and the freedoms our government provides to citizens in their daily lives,” LRE-PO Committee Co-Chair Jeffrey Paulsen said.

“The relevance of Law Day is just as important today as it was when President Eisenhower first recognized May 1 as Law Day in 1958. While in the U.S. we may engage in debates about the role of our Constitution and its breadth and reach, it is ultimately maintaining a system of government based upon the rule of law that will keep our country the land of opportunity.”

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