By Bari Auerbach
Business and community leaders recently collaborated with judges from the North Dade Justice Center to present the 58th annual Law Day celebration featuring Judge William Thomas, 11th Judicial Circuit. Judges overseeing Law Day 2017, themed “The 14th Amendment, Transforming American Democracy”, were Associate Administrative Judge Linda Singer Stein, Judge Myriam Lehr, Judge Caryn Canner Schwartz, Judge Spencer Multack, Judge Betty Capote, Judge Jason Emilios Dimitris, Judge Diana Vizcaino, Judge Alex Bokor and Judge Linda Diaz.
Special guests included Chief Judge Bertila Soto, as well as county and circuit court judges, elected officials, law enforcement officials, Bar Association leaders, educators, and students from Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Sr. High Law Academy.
Law Day commenced with an invocation by Bal Harbour Village Mayor Gabriel Groisman; the Pledge of Allegiance led by the Bailiffs of the North Dade Justice Center; Color Guard presentation by Krop Sr. High’s NJROTC; and an inspiring rendition of “God Bless America” sung by talented 12-year-old vocalist Preston Howell.
During the event, proclamations were presented by Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman; Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman; Bay Harbor Islands Mayor Jordan Leonard; Sunny Isles Beach Vice Mayor Dana Goldman; North Miami Beach Commissioner Phyllis Smith and Kevin Brown, Legislative Ass’t. to Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert. Proclamations lauded Law Day as, “A public acknowledgement of our nation’s and state’s heritage of justice, liberty and quality under the law.”
Next on the docket, Chief Judge Soto introduced Judge Thomas, revered as “a brilliant jurist from humble beginnings, who has dedicated his life to public service to protect the legal rights of others.” Thomas said, “The 14th Amendment resolved pre-Civil War questions of American citizenship by stating that all persons born and naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States and in the state in which they reside. The Amendment reaffirmed the privileges and rights of all citizens, granting equal protections of the law.
“Choices central to personal dignity and autonomy are central to the liberties protected by the 14th Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence. Some people believe you don’t make the marginal voice stronger because in doing so, you may make the privileged voices weaker. How long until we get it right? We should come together and we should start today. It’s time to conquer hate, ignorance and indifference and move our democracy forwards.”
During Law Day, it was announced the first place winner of the North Dade Bar Association’s Law Day student essay contest organized by attorney Esther Blynn was Alexandra Leon, an 8th grader at Highland Oaks Middle. Attorney Russel Lazega of Florida Advocates, one of the first recipients of the first prize Law Day essay contest over 30 years ago, said, “The amazing kids who represent our future invested incredible talent, imagination and analysis into their work. I look forward to seeing them sitting out here as dignitaries a few years from now.”
Ruling Law Day 2017 “highly successful,” North Dade Justice Center judges expressed special thanks to supporters including: Law Offices of Fenstersheib and Berkowitz, PA; Florida Advocates, a Private Law Firm; the Aventura Marketing Council/Chamber of Commerce; Bank of the Ozarks; Cuban American Bar Association; Dade League of Prosecutors; Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association; Haitian Lawyers Association; North Dade Bar Association; South Broward Bar Association and Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza Aventura.