Law Day

With special thanks to Friends of the Rupert J. Smith Law Library, Inc., students had the opportunity to participate in the 2019 Law Day Art Contest and Law Day Reception. This year’s theme, “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society,” highlighted the cornerstones of representative government and called on individuals to understand and protect these rights to ensure “The blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”
Treasure Coast High School’s Jazz Band served to engage those attending the event during the reception. Special guests were honored and students from around the district were celebrated for their talents and were awarded for their artistic designs.
Click here for a video recap of this year’s event:
Congratulations to:

Poster Board Category:

Elementary school (3rd – 5th grade)

1st place:      $100.00        Cole Oehlberg                  (Christ Lutheran School)

2nd place:     $75.00          Melania Apostolico           (Palm Pointe)

3rd place:      $50.00          Olivia Peralta                    (Palm Pointe)

Elementary school (K – 2nd grade)

1st place:      $100.00        Taylor Laplante                 (Palm Pointe)

2nd place:     $75.00          Liana Bonet                      (Palm Pointe)

3rd place:      $50.00          Jessica Bouris                  (Palm Pointe)

3 Dimensional Category:

Middle school (6th – 8th grade):

1st place:      $150.00        Joseline Hernandez-Gaspar (Creative Arts Academy of St. Lucie)

2nd place:     $100.00        Kaylee Hunt                      (Palm Pointe)

Photography Category:

Middle school (6th – 8th grade):

1st place:      $150.00        Tindra Zawackis               (Palm Pointe)

2nd place:     $100.00        Saya Joseph                    (Palm Pointe)

Video Category:

Middle school (6th – 8th grade):

1st place:      $150.00        Maria Ramirez Gallego     (Creative Arts Academy of St. Lucie)

2nd place:     $100.00        Christian Vasquez             (Creative Arts Academy of St. Lucie)

The idea of having a Law Day was proposed by the American Bar Association in 1957. The joint resolution passed by Congress in 1961 described Law Day as “a special celebration by the people of the United States.” It described the purposes of this celebration: to show appreciation of the liberties we enjoy in this nation, to reaffirm loyalty to the United States, to rededicate ideals of liberty and justice under the law, and to cultivate respect for the law.
This year’s Law Day Art Contest was held at the Paula A. Lewis Library in Port Saint Lucie.
We appreciate the contribution of James T. Walker, Esq. for this eloquent summary of this year’s event:

“The clearest way to show what the

Rule of Law means to us in every day

life is to recall what has happened

when there is no rule of law.”


— Dwight D. Eisenhower




Life without the rule of law. What a prospect. One online source defines law’s rule as “the principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced; the principle of government by law.” See President Eisenhower was asking that people imagine their lives subject to the whims of others, unprotected by any written rules applying fairly and equally to everyone else. He was describing life in a dictatorship, where there is no constitution leavened by laws adopted  through elected representatives.


The importance of law to our democratic way of life is acknowledged on one day of the year, through Law Day, May first. This was formalized by Congress in 1961, by adoption of a resolution enshrining that day in commitment to “equality and justice under law”. See 36 USC sec. 113. For law libraries, particularly the Rupert J. Smith Law Library, it is the most important day of the year. The law’s most sacred ideal is that all members of society should receive equal justice under law. Equal justice is meaningless unless every person has equal access to the law, with equal opportunity to acquire awareness of the rights, obligations and remedies afforded by the law. That’s where law libraries come in. They are the gateway of every man, woman and child to the legal system.


Hence, the Friends of the Rupert J. Smith Law Library,  in cooperation and partnership with the St. Lucie County School Board, annually hosts a Law Day Reception and Art Contest. It accomplishes several purposes. First, it acquaints Treasure Coast residents with the availability of our county law library and alerts them to the resources at their disposal for learning what they might need to know about the law. Second it serves as a platform for honoring those members of the community whose lives and accomplishments exemplify and give meaning to the rule of law in normal daily life. By honoring them thusly, others are inspired to likewise conduct themselves similarly. Third, it is a means of educating young people about the law. They do that by expressing in works of art the theme chosen annually for Law Day by the American Bar Association. This year’s 2019 ABA theme was “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society”.


This year’s celebration of Law Day took place on May 3, 2019, in the community room at the Paula A. Lewis Branch Library, in Port St. Lucie.  There was grateful acknowledgement of sponsorship support from the St. Lucie County Bar Association, the Port St. Lucie County Bar Association, Everlove & Associates, and the Hon. Ben Bryan (ret.).  Attendees included representatives of the school board, the judiciary, members of the local bar associations, students, their parents and other invited guests and members of the public. Masters of Ceremonies were James T. Walker, Esq. and Carlos Wells, Esq.

The proceeding was opened by the Hon. Burton Connor, District Court Judge for the Fourth District Court of Appeals. Judge Connor led the Pledge of Allegiance after speaking to it’s significance and meaning. Judge Connor explained that not only is The Pledge an opportunity to declare one’s love of country, but is also a means of honoring those who have fought for their country’s freedoms, often suffering death or disability in so doing.


Shaniek M. Maynard, Magistrate Judge for the US District Court, Southern District of Florida, then introduced the Keynote Speaker, the Hon. Michael Linn, recently appointed as a Circuit Court Judge for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit. Judge Linn, who is also an Adjunct Professor at Indian River State Court, spoke on the meaning of those freedoms implicated by the ABA’s choice of theme for Law Day, the Freedom of Assembly, the Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press. Judge Linn adopted a professorial mien, pacing back and forth while challenging the members of his audience with sharply pointed, provocative  questions. For example, he asked the audience to assume that a certain country provides the following Article 67 in it’s constitution: “(1) Citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech, the press, assembly, demonstration and association; (2) The State guarantees the conditions for the free activities of democratic political parties and social organizations”.  He then asked his audience to name the country with that constitution.. Among the guesses were Canada. No one succeeded in guessing the actual country, North Korea. Judge Linn explained that the mere listing of purported rights in a country’s constitution does not mean it is governed by the rule of law. Judge Linn went on to explain the importance of democratically adopted laws by elected representatives, enforced by an independent judiciary, with power divided up among co-equal branches of government, rather than concentrated under a dictator as in North Korea.


Several very special people were honored for their contributions to the rule of law on the Treasure Coast. As with Judge Linn, each was introduced by an individual whose stature in the community was intended to lend weight and gravitas to their status as honorees. Nora Everlove, Chief law librarian of RJSLL for the past twenty-seven years, presented a plaque, in deepest gratitude from the Trustees of the law library, to Michael D. Fowler, Esq.,  principle in The Estate, Trust & Elder Law Firm, P.L. Mr. Fowler was honored for his unwavering support of legal education, through sponsorship over several years of the library’s Annual CLE Lecture Series. She noted that his support made him “… the largest single donor to the law library in its thirty year history. We cannot thank him enough for what he has done to make this program successful. Impressively, it has doubled in size in the last three years.”


The Hon. Linda Bartz, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners for St. Lucie County, recognized George Shopland, CEO, New Horizons of the Treasure Coast. Commissioner Bartz  honored Mr. Bartz “for a lifetime spent in service to the rule of law through devotion to community and people.” Mr. Shopland was previously director of the Institute for Mental Health at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach. He became CEO of New Horizons on it’s 60th anniversary as the premier mental health and addiction recovery providor on the Treasure Coast, serving more than 14,000 adults and children each year. Mr. Shopland took the place of John Romano, who retired after thirty years.


The third honoree was Officer Dani Dreizehnter, of the Fort Pierce Police Department. She was introduced by Carlos Wells, Senior Assistant State Attorney for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, whose responsibilities involve juvenile delinquency litigation. Officer Dreizehnter, too, was recognized for “a lifetime spent in service to the rule of law through devotion to community and people.” Mr. Wells spoke warmly of her involvement on behalf of young people who are caught up in the criminal justice system.  He described her deep dedication to such juveniles, as she responds to emergency situations at all hours of the day, making sure that there is effective communication going on about the individual’s needs among the attorneys, guidance counselors, therapists, and parents. She takes a close interest in the underlying social pathologies of their offenses, and seeks to help where able with their teachers and families. When asked, “Do you have any kids?”, her standard response is “Several hundred… and growing!” She was the first ever officer of the FPPD fully dedicated to juvenile justice matters, and additionally serves as an adjunct professor at IRSC, teaching criminal justice.


Following recognition of Law Day Honorees, there was further celebration of the student artists whose works best exemplified or embodied the theme for Law Day. Cash prizes were handed out by Dr. Helen Wild, Chief Academic Office for St. Lucie Public Schools, in her role as Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Programs and Non-traditional  Education Schools in St. Lucie Public Schools. She was assisted by Kim Cunzo, Esquire, who is in private legal practice, helping people with a range of issues arising in the field of domestic law. The types of art work honored included posters, photography, three dimensional renditions, and video.


This year’s student winners were divided into categories. There were two groups of poster board artists, from K through second grade, and from third through fifth grade. In the first category there were Cole Oehlberg (Christ Lutheran School/ First place $100); Melania Apostolico (Palm Pointe/ Second place, $75); and Olivia Peralty (Palm Point/ Third place, $50). In the second group, there were Taylor Laplante (Palm Pointe/ First place, $100); Liana Bonet (Palm Pointe/ Second place, $75) and Jessica Bouris (Palm Pointe/ Third place, $50).


Winners of the Three Dimensional Category were Joseline Hernandez-Gaspar (Creative Arts Academy of St. Lucie/ First place, $150) and Kaylee Hunt (Palm Point/ Second place, $100).


Photographic winners were Tindra Zawackis (Palm Pointe/ First place, $150) and Saya Joseph (Palm Pointe/ Second place, $100).


There were also two winners in the video graphics category, Maria Ramirez Gallego (Creative Arts Academy of St. Lucie/ First place, $150), and Christian Vasquez (Creative Arts Academy of St. Lucie/ Second place, $100).


Friends was proud of this year’s success of the 2019 Law Day Reception and Art Contest. In addition to those participants named above, the event was made possible by Paul Nucci, who assisted with light snacks and picture-taking. Much thanks was due to the talented members of the Treasure Coast Jazz Combo, of Treasure Coast High School, under the direction of Mr. Luke Hall, who provided entertainment during the reception. There were photographers and videographers provided by the school board and there must be recognized and thanked the wonderful directors of Friends of the RJS Law Library for their involvement and assistance, including Carolyn Fabrizio, Nora Everlove, Kim Cunzo, Andrea O’Conner’Hall, George Metcalf, Donald Watson, Carlos Wells, Jim Walker and Steve Hoskins.  Respectful thanks is additionally due to Kerry Padrick, Chief Communications Officer for the St. Lucie Schools, for assisting in disseminating awareness of the event to staff and local students, and who makes sure everything goes smoothly.


In conclusion, there are recalled the words of Abraham Lincoln, who said this about the law: “Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap—let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primmers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice.”  Law, he pointed out, is at the heart of our democratic way of life. It is proper that we honor the law and those whose lives and deeds give meaning to it’s finest ideals, including the right to equal justice under the law. That bright, shining ideal takes on life when every member of society has equal access to knowledge of the law, through awareness of his or her rights, obligations and remedies. Law libraries make that possible.