On April 24, 2015, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California hosted a Law Day celebration for more than 90 high school students who are members of Junior State of America (JSA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for students interested in politics, government, foreign affairs, and the law. WLALA Board Members Susan DeWitt, Bankruptcy Judge Sandra R. Klein, Jessica Kronstadt, District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell, Carmela Pagay, Sarah Schuh, and WLALA member Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal participated in the daylong event.
The celebration began with a jobs panel, which featured speakers from the District Court, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the offices of the United States Attorney, Federal Public Defender, and U.S. Marshals Service. The speakers discussed their background and education, how they got their jobs, and what they liked the most and the least about their work. The Deputy U.S. Marshals even brought their tactical equipment for the students to try on. Following the jobs panel, Bankruptcy Judge Sandra Klein provided a financial literacy presentation, which included video and audio clips to highlight important information such as budgeting and saving, using credit, debit, and prepaid cards, and credit reports and scores. The presentation also included a discussion of 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 and special guests participated in the Power Lunch: Bankruptcy Judges Barry Russell, Julia W. Brand, and Martin R. Barash, Magistrate Judge Michael R. Wilner, Clerk of Court/Executive Officer Kathleen Campbell, Chief U.S. Probation Officer, Michelle Carey, Warden of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Conrad M. Graber, Acting Federal Public Defender Hilary Potashner, and Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura. Guest speaker Professor Laurie L. Levenson of Loyola Law School discussed high profile criminal cases and her work exonerating Obie Anthony and Kash Register for crimes they did not commit. She also discussed law and justice and impressed upon students that they are the leaders of the future. The Power Lunch concluded with a spirited game of Legal Jeopardy! which is played like the traditional Jeopardy! game, but with categories such as “Bill of Rights” and “Who’s Who in the Courtroom.”
The last event of the Law Day celebration was a mock trial involving a criminal “texting-while-driving” case. The students played all of the roles in the trial including the judge, prosecutors, defense counsel, courtroom deputy and jurors. District Judge John Kronstadt assisted the student judge and provided information about trial practices and procedures.
The Bankruptcy Court’s Community Outreach Committee, chaired by Bankruptcy Judge Sandra Klein, organized the district-wide Law Day celebration, which included all of the court units and many of the federal agencies in the Central District of California.