Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : June 2006

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MSBA Celebrates Law Day

Over 150 lawyers, judges, teachers and high school students from all parts of Maryland gathered at the Sheppard Pratt Conference Center on May 25, 2006, in celebration of Law Day. MSBA's Public Awareness Committee, in conjunction with MSBA's Citizenship Law-Related Education Program (CLREP), presented the daylong lawyer/student/teacher conference on "The Impact of the Law on Your Daily Life." The program was geared to the key laws and legal consequences of issues that affect the daily lives of high school students.

Welcoming the audience on behalf of MSBA, the Association's President-Elect, Edward J. Gilliss, stated, "We are a professional association of over 22,000 volunteer lawyers whose mission is public service and preserving the rule of the law. Our members go out into the community and volunteer their time to serve the public. They regularly visit schools around the state to tell young people about the law and their legal rights."

"Today, MSBA is celebrating Law Day with this special conference on the law's impact on your daily life as young people," Gilliss continued.

"As high school students, the law affects your daily life as you go about your daily routine. The decisions that you make as teenagers can positively or negatively affect your future, but many young people are not aware of how these decisions are impacted by the law."

"Today you will receive a basic working knowledge of the law from the experts – prominent MSBA lawyers and judges who have volunteered their time today to talk to you and answer your questions," concluded MSBA's President-Elect. "Rights and responsibilities go hand-in-hand in a free democratic society. Knowledge of the law can help you better understand your rights as citizens. I hope you enjoy our conference, I thank you for participating and I hope you find the experience to be enlightening, giving you an even better understanding of our legal system."

Next, the students watched the dynamic Branded D.U.I. video produced by MSBA's Administrative Law Section, Maryland's Judiciary and the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). The video was the brainchild of Yvette Diamond, an Administrative Law Judge at OAH and Council member of MSBA's Administrative Law Section, who oversaw its coordination and production. Introducing the video, Diamond said, "Most young people do not think about the consequences of drinking and driving and are not prepared for them. Young people think it won't happen to them."

After the students watched the compelling video, tracing the actual drunk driving experiences of 11 of their peers, Diamond joined Adam Sean Cohen, Public Awareness Co-Chair and defense attorney, Robert Anbinder, Public Awareness Co-Chair and an attorney with the Baltimore City's Solicitor's Office, and Erek Baron, a prosecutor in Baltimore's State's Attorney's Office in a panel discussion of the "realities" of what can happen to you if charged with DUI.

The balance of the day was filled with numerous break-out sessions on different areas of the law. At the closing session, it is interesting to note that most of the questions raised by the young people during the hour-long question-and-answer session involved drinking and driving, everything from: "What are the real consequences?; What if you use drugs instead of alcohol – are they the same charges?; Can't someone else blow into the Interlock System so that you can drive?"

"Many of the real-world issues addressed had not even been contemplated by the youth prior to the program," notes Cohen. "It was a truly special moment to see the wheels turning in their minds as the information was presented and filed away."

"The Public Awareness Committee tried to provide easy access to information – one-stop shopping, really – for what we expected would be the most common issues," added Anbinder. "We wanted to arm them with answers now, but even more importantly, we wanted to tell them where they could turn for answers in the future."

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: June 2006

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