Bankruptcy Court Hosts Law Day Celebration for 80 High School Students
By Hon. Sandra R. Klein and Razmig Izakelian, Clerk to Hon. Sandra R. Klein
On May 20, 2014, WLALA Board members Bankruptcy Judge Sandra Klein, Rozella Oliver, Cathy Ostiller, and Sarah Schuh, past Executive Committee member District Court Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell, and WLALA member Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal, participated in the Central District of California’s Law Day 2014 celebration. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California hosted the Law Day celebration for approximately 80 high school students who are members of Junior State of America (JSA). JSA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that encourages students interested in politics, government, foreign affairs, the law, and education, to become active and informed citizens. Law Day 2014’s theme was “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters.”
The day-long celebration began with two mock trials involving a criminal texting-while-driving case. The students played all of the roles in the trial including the judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, courtroom deputies, and jurors. District Court Judge Philip Gutierrez and Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal assisted the student judges and provided information about trial practices and procedures. Attorneys from the United States Attorney’s and Federal Public Defender’s offices coached the student prosecutors and defense counsel and mentored the students who prepared their own closing arguments. Each mock trial included a jury, which deliberated and rendered a verdict.
Following the mock trials, Bankruptcy Judges Sandra Klein and Maureen Tighe provided financial literacy presentations. The presentations utilized video and audio clips to highlight important information such as distinguishing between wants and needs, budgeting, saving, investing, using credit cards wisely, and the difference between credit and debit cards. The presentations also included material about student loans and bankruptcy.
The Bankruptcy Court then hosted a Power Lunch, during which judges, lawyers and other professionals shared lunch with the students and discussed the law and the legal profession. In addition to the judges already mentioned, the following judges participated in the Power Lunch: District Court Judges Dolly Gee and John Kronstadt; Senior District Court Judges Terry Hatter and Ronald Lew; Magistrate Judges Alka Sagar and Patrick Walsh; Chief Bankruptcy Judge Peter Carroll, and Bankruptcy Judges Neil Bason, Sheri Bluebond, Julia Brand, Victoria Kaufman, and Richard Neiter. Clerk of Court/Executive Officer Kathleen Campbell, Federal Public Defender Sean Kennedy, along with numerous attorneys and other professionals from all of the federal agencies attended as well.
The Power Lunch opened with discussion of significant events in our nation’s history regarding voting and voting rights. Students were encouraged to exercise their voting rights so that their voices can be heard. Guest speaker Professor Laurie L. Levenson of Loyola Law School, then spoke to the students about high profile cases, law and justice, and emphasized that justice requires hard work and dedication. The Power Lunch concluded with a spirited game of “Legal Jeopardy” with categories such as the “Bill of Rights” and “Who’s Who in the Courtroom.” The students as well as the volunteers had a wonderful time.
The Law Day celebration ended with a Jobs Panel, which featured speakers from the District Court, the Bankruptcy Court, the Bureau of Prisons, and the offices of the United States Attorney, Federal Public Defender, United States Trustee, Pretrial Services, Probation, Marshals Service, and Federal Protective Service. The speakers discussed their background, education, how they financed their education, how they got their jobs, and what they liked the most and the least about their work.
The Bankruptcy Court’s Community Outreach Committee, chaired by Bankruptcy Judge Sandra Klein, organized the district-wide Law Day celebration. Judge Klein recognized the tireless efforts of the Bankruptcy Court’s staff for making the day such a success and the District Court, the Bureau of Prisons, and the offices of the United States Attorney, Federal Public Defender, United States Trustee, Pretrial Services, Probation, Marshals Service, and Federal Protective Service for their contribution to the event.
Hon. Sandra Klein is a WLALA Board Member. Judge Klein is bankruptcy judge for the Central District of California.