President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law.” In order to fulfill this desire, in May 1958 Eisenhower proclaimed Law Day to honor the role of law in the creation of the United States of America.
Made official in 1961 when Congress issued a joint resolution, The American Bar Association defines Law Day as: “A national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law. Law Day underscores how law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms that all Americans share.”
Each year the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit Bar Association hosts a variety of activities based on the annual Law Day theme. This year’s Law Day theme is ‘Realizing the Dream: Equality for All’
The Declaration of Independence adamantly states, with no qualms, that Americans “find these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and furthermore, it guarantees the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” yet our great country has a history of struggling to uphold these self-evident truths and rights.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.”
This is the danger of the law, for with great power comes great responsibility. When the law, and those who make it, lose sight of the words written in the declaration that “all men are created equal,” then the law itself is in danger of becoming a roadblock to progress and equality.
This year’s Law Day gives Americans the opportunity to reflect upon our past transgressions and work together to avoid placing these roadblocks of inequality in the future.
The local Law Day celebration includes various projects and programs designed to highlight the importance of the rule of law. This year the main program will begin at noon on Tuesday, April 30, at the Bluffs Conference Center in Canton. The Blue Ridge Bar Association will partner with the Rotary Club of Canton for the annual Law Day Luncheon.
This year’s Law Day luncheon speaker is Judge M. Yvette Miller of the Court of Appeals of Georgia. Judge Miller was appointed by Gov. Roy Barnes on July 12, 1999, thereby becoming the first African-American woman and 65th Judge on the Court.
Additionally, Judge Miller is the first African-American woman to serve as chief judge of the Court of Appeals. Judge Miller has achieved many “firsts” over the course of her career, including the first African-American woman to hold the title of “Miss Macon,” as well as being one of the first female prosecutors in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.
In addition to the keynote speech, the Blue Ridge Bar Association will present two awards. The first award is the Liberty Bell Award, the most prestigious award given by lawyers to non-lawyers. The Bar’s Liberty Bell Committee selects the recipient based on the American Bar Association’s criteria, and the award will be presented at the Law Day Luncheon to a member of the community who has substantially contributed to the rule of law in activities outside his or her regular employment.
The second award is the Col. Robert S. “Bob” Stubbs II Distinguished Service Award. This award is given to a non-lawyer for outstanding dedication to a profession within the judicial and legal system. The award recognizes outstanding assistance to attorneys, citizens, members of juries, judges and the public, thereby facilitating the functioning of the courts.
As well as presenting the two awards, members of the Blue Ridge Bar Association honor Law Day by engaging in a bevy of community service activities and/or legal programs.
One activity that has taken place is Anne Harris’ fifth-grade AIM class at Avery Elementary School, a mock trial at the Cherokee County Courthouse, “The Case of the Big Bad Wolf,” on March 28. In preparation for the “trial,” Blue Ridge Bar Association Members David Walker, Andrew Wehunt, John Cline, Eric Ballinger, Jon Pope and Patricia Ball visited Mrs. Harris’ class to help prepare the participating attorneys and witnesses. Superior Court Judge N. Jackson Harris presided over the event.
Furthermore, the Community Service Drive that the Bar is sponsoring is Hasty Elementary’s program called “Project Backpack: Helping Hungry Huskies.” The program’s goal is to send backpacks full of nonperishable or semi-nonperishable foods home to needy kids. Donations can be placed in the box in the front room of the Indigent Defense office located on the second floor of the Courthouse.
The Cherokee County Law Library, a branch of the Sequoyah Regional Library System, also celebrates Law Day by hosting a Law Day Open House in the Library on May 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Abigail Roach is the newest associate at Roach, Caudill & Gunn. She was born and raised in Canton and proud to be a Canton Greenie. Abigail is a third generation Roach practicing law in Canton, and she hopes she can fill the shoes of her grandfather and father.