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Greetings from the Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas Bar Association. Welcome to the first edition of Law Wise for 2006 and the first edition of the 2006-2007 school year. The theme of September's edition of Law Wise is Constitution Day.
Calendar of Events
Hon. G. Joseph Pierron will be chairing the 2006-2007 Kansas Bar Association Law Related Education Committee. Part of Pierronís responsibilities will be to oversee the production and content of Law Wise. The KBA extends a sincere welcome to Pierron, who was appointed to the Kansas Court of Appeals in 1990. He is presently a member of the Kansas Continuing Legal Education Commission.
Pierron was president of the Kansas Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse and served on the board of directors of the Kansas Childrenís Service League. He has served as chair of the Kansas Supreme Court Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution and also served as chair of the Kansas Children, Youth, and Families and the Central States Judicial Council on Child Support Enforcement. He is presently the president of Kids Voting Kansas.
Law Wise has a new editor in Alisa Arst from Wichita. Arst currently is a partner at Arst & Arst P.A. where she practices in the areas of bankruptcy, probate, and personal injury. In the past she has worked for a large defense litigation firm and as an assistant district attorney and appellate attorney. In addition to her juris doctorate, she has a teaching degree and is a private tutor. She also serves on several boards. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, walking with her friends and dog, cooking, entertaining, and gardening.
Meg Wickham is the new manager of public services at the Kansas Bar Association (KBA). Wickham joined the KBA in October 2004 as a program planner in its continuing legal education department. Previously, she was with the Kansas Press Association and worked for 11 years in radio in the Topeka market. Wickham received her bachelorís degree in broadcast journalism from Washburn University and is a fourth generation Topekan. She has two daughters, Molly and Madeline. Wickham looks forward to working with Kansas educators from across the state.
Constitution Day 2006
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
On Sept. 17, 1787, our Founding Fathers signed the Constitution of the United States of America in Philadelphia. The Constitution is noted as the most perfect governmental document conceived by man.
In 2004, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., introduced an amendment to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005. Section 111(b) states, ďConstitution Day [must] be held on [Sept.] 17 Ö commemorating the [Sept.] 17. 1787, signing of the Constitution.Ē Byrd, Congressí unofficial constitutional scholar, believed that American primary, secondary, and post-secondary students lacked significant knowledge of the Constitution.
President George W. Bush signed House Resolution 1848 on Dec. 8, 2004, which officially established Sept. 17 as ďUnited States Constitution Day.Ē
With this act, educational institutions receiving federal funding were to provide educational programming on the Constitution. It will be observed on the same day it was signed, Sept. 17, unless the date falls on a weekend or another holiday, in which case it will be observed on the preceding or following week. As with this yearís date falling on a Sunday, most schools and the national observation of Constitution Day will fall on Monday, Sept. 18.
Constitution Day Inc. began with the simultaneous recitation of the Preamble across America in 1997. This year marks the 10th annual nationwide recitation of the Preamble with Gen. Colin Powell leading the ceremony on Monday, Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. CDT. Following the recitation of the Preamble, there will be roll call of the 50 states in the order the state was admitted to the Union or ratified the Constitution.
The Kansas judiciary, Kansas Bar Association, and the Kansas Women Attorneys Association have numerous no-cost programs available to help school districts observe Constitution Day.
Since 1994, Kansas judges and lawyers have been presenting a live, interactive program on the Supreme Court of the United States, especially its duty to interpret the Constitution. Using interesting constitutional law cases decided by the Supreme Court, presenters use audience members to play the parts of the litigants, lawyers, judges, and justices. The important issues of the case are explored, the audience votes on the outcome, and then is told how the case was actually decided. A well-received, award-winning program for schools and community groups, the presentation is educational and entertaining. No preparation by the audience is needed. The program is called ďYou be the Judge.Ē
In 2004, the KBA sponsored a program presented by Kansas judges and lawyers to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The program consists of an edited video version of the arguments presented to the Supreme Court and explanatory commentary. The popularity of this program prompted the KBA to produce another video concerning the case of Miranda v. Arizona and a third video, in cooperation with the Kansas Press Association, on the important First Amendment case of New York Times v. Sullivan.
ďYou be the JudgeĒ is ideal for school presentations and community meetings. The Supreme Court argument videos are available to interested schools and additional explanatory materials are also available. For information on the availability of these programs, please contact Meg Wickham, manager of public services, at (785) 234-5696 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information on Constitution Day can be found at http://www.ksbar.org under Public Services, Constitution Day.
In May 2005, the U.S. Department of Education announced that all educational institutions receiving federal funding must observe Constitution Day, celebrating the Sept. 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution.
According to the guidelines put forth by the Department of Education, educators are free to design Constitution Day programming that best addresses the needs of their students.
Constitutional Rights Foundation is pleased to present a series of free online lessons, resources from the CRF catalog, and Internet links to help educators design their own Constitution Day program.
Visit http://www.crf-usa.org/constitution_day/constitution_day_home.htm for more information.
The American Bar Association has a free newsletter that contains information on law-related education. Law Matters, which reports on developments, ideas, programs, and resources in the field of public education about the law, is published three times per year (winter, summer, and fall). For information on ordering, contact the ABA at (312) 988-5735 or email@example.com.
By Chelsey G. Langland, YLS Mock Trial chairperson, research attorney for Hon. Christel E. Marquardt
The Kansas Bar Associationís high school mock trial program allows all KBA members to interact with high school students from across the state. Most people participate by judging at the regional and state tournaments. However, some attorneys invest their time and energy in coaching a team, a pursuit that yields much greater rewards.
John Andra, research attorney for Hon. Michael B. Buser of the Kansas Court of Appeals, has started two mock trial programs ó one at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School in Wichita and one at Topeka High School. When asked about the process of founding a team, he advises the best way to start is to make contact with a teacher or administrator within the school. That person can find practice facilities, arrange for transportation, and generally assist with logistical difficulties.
Andra said the next "challenge" is finding students for the team. He suggests making announcements, writing articles in school newspapers, or speaking to government classes. He believes word of mouth among students is also a big help. Although the students involved in mock trial are often active in debate or student government, Andra thinks there is a big talent pool beyond those kids that is often untapped. Some of his team members have done no other activity in high school beyond mock trial, and he describes it as a "great opportunity for kids to spread their wings a bit."
Once students are identified, Andra admits that the biggest hurdle to overcome is flexibility. Attorneys are always run by their calendars, of course, but the kids are busy too. His approach is to let the kids do other things and accept that conflicts may arise, which keep kids from attending practices or competitions. He keeps a "roll with the punches" attitude and a lot of willingness to accommodate schedules, but generally starts weekly practices in mid-January, with a full practice trial in the week leading up to the competition.
The hard work that is put into mock trial is realized each spring when one team from Kansas attends the National Mock Trial Tournament. This past year, a team from Shawnee Mission East High School attended the national tournament in Oklahoma City. The KBA provides a travel scholarship to help defray expenses.
Aishlinn OíConnon was a member of the winning team. She described nationals as "a blast" and said that the trip really helped the team bond. She also appreciated the opportunity to compete against better teams, especially the Hawaiian team, which was returning in 2006 after a second place finish in 2005. O'Connon said that the Hawaiians fielded a very tough team, and she was pleased that the final outcome of the round was close. She said that even though Shawnee Mission East ultimately lost the round, they learned more about "confidence, selective argumentation, and presentation" in that round than in all of the others combined. The 2007 national tournament will be held in Dallas.
Andra knows that most mock trial coaches are not attorneys. However, he believes "the more contact with practicing attorneys and judges, the better." He continues, "This is the particular genius of mock trial, that it is judged by real-world legal professionals, usually in real courtrooms."
We are grateful for all of the assistance weíve had in the past and are encouraged by Shook, Hardy & Bacon's rock-solid commitment to fostering this program well into the future. However, they can't do it alone, and the program cannot run without attorney volunteers. I'd encourage each and every KBA member to become involved through coaching a team or committing to judging at the regional or state tournaments.
For more information, please contact Meg Wickham, manager of public services, at (785) 234-5696 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save the Date!
Mock Trial Dates for 2007
Feb. 24, 2007 ó Regionals
March 30, 2007-ó State
The Kansas Court of Appeals, a 12-member intermediate appellate court, sits in three-judge panels. The court is pleased to have students attend the hearings. The Court of Appeals will next be hearing cases Sept. 18-20 and Oct. 17-18. In September, panels will hear arguments in Topeka Sept. 18 and 20 in the Kansas Judicial Center, and Sept. 19 in Wichita and Kansas City, Kan., at the federal courthouses. In October, the Court of Appeals will hear appeals Oct. 17-18 at the KU law school in Lawrence, at the Washburn law school in Topeka, and at the federal courthouse and the Old Sedgwick County Courthouse in Wichita.
The Kansas Supreme Court is the highest court in the state and includes seven members. Students are also welcome at oral arguments before the Supreme Court. The high court holds its hearings only in Topeka. The Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments during the week beginning Oct. 25-27. If you have any questions concerning the Kansas appellate courts, or if you would like to bring your class to either the Kansas Supreme Court or the Kansas Court of Appeals, teachers may contact Ron Keefover, Education and Information Officer of the Office of Judicial Administration, 301 W. 10th Ave., Topeka, KS 66612-1507, (785) 296-4872, for assistance. You can also contact Keefover via e-mail at email@example.com.
Law Wise is published by the Kansas Bar Association during the school year. The Kansas Bar Foundation, with Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts funding, provides support for this publication. Published free, on request, for teachers or anyone interested in law-related education, is edited by Crystal Marietta, Pittsburg, (620) 231-5620. For further information about any projects or articles, contact Ron Keefover, Education and Information Officer of the Office of Judicial Administration, Topeka, (785) 296-4872, or Meg Wickham, Public Services Manager of the Kansas Bar Association, Topeka (785) 234-5696. Law Wise is printed at the Kansas Bar Association, 1200 S.W. Harrison, P.O. Box 1037, Topeka, Kansas 66601-1037.
Objective: Students will reach a deeper understanding of some important rights.
Resources: Handout A: A Visitor from Outer Space Attorney(s)
There are certain responses and mistakes that are common among students doing the Visitor from Outer Space activity. Suggestions follow for dealing with these situations, if they should arise:
Right to keep and bear arms Ė Many fifth graders choose not to keep this right. You may need to play devilís advocate and/or explain some of the history behind this right. Ask students: Why might the founders have considered this an important right? What controversies exist today over the meaning of this right? Does this right make people more or less safe?
Right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment Ė Students often become confused over this right, thinking that it applies to punishment by their peers or parents. It is important to link this to due process, explaining that the accused must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal trial, then sentenced appropriately.
Right to freedom of press Ė Students may find the importance of this amendment difficult to understand. Help them to understand the alternative, in which the government controls the release and form of news. People would read only what the government wanted them to read. Alternatively, they may argue that this right is implicit in a right to free speech.
Right to a jury trial Ė Review the definition of a jury Ė a group of people who have sworn to be fair and have been questioned by both the prosecution and the defense who also believe they will be fair. Help them to understand alternatives to jury trials and the reasons why the founders might have been leery of trials by judges.
Right to freedom of religion Ė Students frequently keep this right. Remind them that it means the government should remain neutral Ė neither encouraging nor discouraging religion. Even though many people came to America for religious freedom, they werenít always tolerant of other religions.
Right to peacefully assemble Ė This right is frequently dismissed. Like the right to freedom of the press, students may argue this right is included in the right to freedom of speech. As with all the others, historical context and consideration of alternatives may help students to understand why this right was included in the Bill of Rights. Remind them that if you canít get together, youíd have to say whatever you want in private.
Protection from self-incrimination Ė Students are likely to need an explanation of the term self-incrimination; they may have a difficult time understanding why people should not be forced to admit to their wrongdoing. You may wish to have them imagine themselves being accused of a crime they did not commit and feeling forced to confess.
A Visitor from Outer Space
It is the year 2020, and you are living a settled, prosperous life. You are quietly watching television with your family when a special news bulletin comes over the TV station. You immediately see that this is not the normal type of news bulletin because there is what looks like a very strange creature on the screen -- the only thing which is familiar is that it is speaking in English. It tells you that it and its people have gained control over all of the communication networks in the United States and that everyone had better pay attention to what it has to say. You change the channel and, just as it said, there it is on every station. It begins to speak very loudly, and you gather your family around because you are beginning to worry about what it is going to do. Its speech is as follows:
My name is STHGIR, and I am from the planet NOITUTITSNOC, in another galaxy where the inhabitants are far superior to the beings on this planet EARTH. Just as we have gained control over the communications of the United States, we have the ability to take complete control over every one of your lives. We do not want a war between our planet and yours, but we do want to control some things so that we can live in peace and harmony with you. We have looked at some of your laws and the way your government operates and have found it to give too much freedom to the individual. Therefore, we are going to conduct a survey to try and arrive at a decision with which both you and we are happy. As I have said, we do not want to take everything away from you -- but we canĀft allow you to continue to live as you have in the past. Therefore, I am giving you a list of rights, which you have according to your Constitution. You are to look over the list and decide which of the rights are more important to you. We will allow you to keep FIVE of the rights. Choose five rights and be prepared to vote. If the vote is not unanimous (that is, if everyone doesnĀft agree), you will be given a short time to reach a unanimous decision. If you cannot, you will lose all of these freedoms
Let us know what you think!
If you have any ideas or suggestions for Law Wise topics or lesson plans,
please e-mail Meg Wickham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subjects: Civics/governmentGrade Level(s): 6-12
Time Frame: 6, 50-minute periods
Objectives: What the student should know and be able to do at the end of the lesson:
Put students into groups of four. Provide each group of four a piece of butcher paper and four markers, a different color marker for each student in the group. Have the students write the word "constitution" in the middle of the poster-sized paper. Have the students create a word web, writing down things they associate with "constitution." Each student is to write in their own color, but can work off of other group membersí words or phrases to build the word web. Have the students post the word webs on the walls around the room and have the students roam around the "Constitutional Gallery" and identify commonalities. Write the word "constitution" on the board and have the students identify what words the word webs had in common. Have each student take out a scrap sheet of paper and write what his or her definition of the word "constitution" is and have the students share their definitions with their small groups. Have each small group then write a group definition to "constitution." Then have each group write their definition on the board. As a class, use the group definitions to write a class definition of the word "constitution." Compare the class definition with that of their textbook or dictionary. Discuss the similarities and differences.
Homework: Have the students ask at least three people not in the class: "What is a constitution?" and "How do constitutions affect your life?"
Have the students share their homework responses with their small group and have each group share with the class the best responses to the two questions. Review with the class the definition of a constitution. Distribute to one-third of the class a copy of the U.S. Constitution, one-third copy of the state constitution, and the last third a copy of your school's student council constitution (or similar document). Have the small groups peruse (not read word for word) their assigned document and identify on a poster-sized piece of paper the:
Homework: Have the students summarize the findings of their Venn diagrams in paragraph form to explain what is the main purpose of a constitution, the main components of a constitution, and the main concepts constitutions have in common.
Have the students share their homework responses. Introduce the concepts of checks and balances, separation of powers, and other concepts you think will be helpful to the students in creating the class constitution. Use the "Congress for Kids" web site (http://www.congressforkids.net/) to illustrate and explain these concepts available under the "Tour of the Federal Government." Introduce to the class that they will be constructing a "Class Constitution." This constitution will be the foundation upon which the class will be conducted in the future. Introduce the concept of popular sovereignty and impress the students how this constitution will allow the students to have input on classroom procedures. Stress that their class constitution will have to be "ratified" by their parents and the disciplinary structure at the school. Read to the students the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Explain to the class how this stated the purpose of the Constitution. Put the students in small groups. Have the small groups brainstorm possible "preambles" to their own class constitution. What is the purpose of the class constitution? Have the groups list their preambles on the board and have the class come to a consensus as to the preamble to the constitution. If the preambles are similar, this process is relatively simple. If not, have the students vote on the best preamble (canít vote for their own).
Homework: Have the students create an outline of what they think the class constitution should look like. Be sure to have them incorporate the roles of students, teacher, aides, parents, and other parties to the classroom.
Have the students get into their small groups and share their outlines. Give each group a piece of poster-sized paper to make a group outline. Remind the class that their outlines should reflect the preamble they wrote the day before. It will take some time for the students to negotiate their differences. Have the students post the group outlines throughout the room and have the students individually look at each poster and jot down in their notebook the ideas they like. The students will now individually decide what they value in their class constitution through a method called "Spend a Buck." Tell each student that they have $1 to spend. They have to spend this money in 5-cent increments. The students are to go back around the room and spend their buck by writing a value next to ideas they like for their class constitution. Students should "spend" more on ideas that they like, less or nothing on ideas that are less important. The written denominations for each student should add up to $1. Add up the values on the posters. Combine similar ideas and report the results to the class.
Homework: Have students brainstorm possible "articles" for their class constitution, categorizing the results of "Spend a Buck" in each article.
Have the students share the possible "article" categories from their homework. Decide as a class what the articles should be. Divide the students into different "article" groups and have the groups write out that article using the ideas the class valued. Have each person write out their groupís product in their notebook and have each student exchange their notebook with someone in another article group for feedback. Have the students share the feedback with their small group and modify their article as needed. Each article group should share their final product and have the class vote on the product.
Teacher Homework: Type up the final product that was agreed to by the class and distribute to students.
Homework: Have students evaluate the class constitution with arguments as to why it should or should not be ratified by school administrators and parents.
Use Congress for Kids (http://www.congressforkids.net/), "Tour of the Federal Government" to review with the class the concept of ratification. Invite a school administrator to come to the class. Have the students use their homework to persuade the official to either sign or not sign the document. If the dean does not sign the document, have the students modify the Constitution to gather the support needed to have it "ratified." Have students bring the constitution home to be ratified by their parents/guardian. Once ratified, post the Constitution prominently in the room and refer to it as needed.
National Standards Addressed by Lesson (based on National Standards for Civics and Government, Center for Civic Education, 1994. Citation based on section, subsection, standard of the document):
Evaluation/Assessment: See http://www.congresslink.org/rubric/pdf.
Mary Ellen Daneels
Community High School
West Chicago, IL 60185
The Law-Related Education Inventory has the following items that are useful in working with students on the Constitution. Check out the following:
The Law-Related Education Inventory has many resources to help teach about law-related topics. The Kansas Bar Association and the lawyers in your community sponsor the Law-Related Education Inventory. To order a catalog, call Meg Wickham at the Kansas Bar Association, (785) 234-5696. The clearinghouse will mail free copies of law-related posters, games, mock trials, booklets, lesson plans, and other aids. It is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The director of the Teachers College Resource Center, which houses the Law-Related Education Inventory, Marla Darby, can be reached at Darbymar@esumail.emporia.edu.
Check out these great Web sites to help you celebrate Constitution Day!