National Law Day – 2019 Wrap-Up
May 10, 2019
I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who made our year’s National Law Day celebrations possible. From our esteemed speakers to our amazing patrons, thank you for coming out and taking part in honoring the role of law in our society. This year’s theme was “Free Speech, Free Press, and Free Society,” which resounded throughout our events. There is a reason why Free Speech was first amongst our numbered amendments (hopefully it just wasn’t a typo). In the age where your privacy and your right to hear false statements are just as widespread as the spam in your email, when the free press is being attacked as a political conman, the First Amendment reaffirms its importance. Here is just a small recap of our week.
On April 30th, our library kicked off our celebrations by hosting renowned Constitutional Law Professor and former Dean of the University of La Verne’s College of Law, Charles Doskow. The topic of the discussion was titled “Free Speech in the Internet Era” which explored topics ranging from Twitter storms, to cyber bullying and what our Constitution has to say about the protection of these issues. Professor Duskow concluded that many acts on the internet would be likely be treated as they would if spoken in person and protected under the same constitutional jurisprudence that came before the internet.
On May 1st, our library had the honor of hosting judicial officers from the Riverside Superior Court and Fourth District Court of Appeal for California. Moderated by Judge Jackson Lucky, our panelists included Justice Richard T. Fields, Marsha G. Slough, and Michael J. Raphael along with Judge Emma Smith. Our esteemed panel discussed California’s recall system and the threat to judicial independence in light of our politically divided society. The panelists agreed that while recent recall elections may be influenced by politics, the California system, as it stood, could be a lot worse (and a lot more dramatic). The greatest defense to judicial independence was, in the minds of the panelists, education of the electorate, rather than fearing the retention system.
Finally, our week of celebrations capped off with a panel discussion with the author of Justice in Plain Sight by Dan Bernstein, detailing the Press Enterprise’s role in opening court proceedings to the public. Dan Bernstein was joined by retired Justice James D. Ward and former Press Enterprise editor Mel Opotowsky. The event was expertly moderated by retired Riverside Superior Court Judge Michele Levine. One surprise were the contributions from some members of our Library’s Board of Trustees, who also played roles in Justice in Plain Sight, John Boyd and Joe Myers.
Thank you for making this year’s National Law Day a success. Our legal system may not be perfect, but it is important to remember that a perfect system is rarely ever achieved. Even with a couple of hundred years under its belt, the United States keeps reaching to achieve a fair system of justice and freedom. All throughout history, justice and freedom is tested during trying times. The importance of maintaining our system is through the continual pursuit of just law and that we as Americans never settle for anything but the complete fulfillment of our freedoms.