Outstanding program: State bar awards county's Law Day
Published 5:56 am Wednesday, July 19, 2006
From staff reports
Under the leadership of President Ray White, the Escambia County Bar Association has received the Alabama State Bar's Local Bar Achievement Award for 2006, in recognition of outstanding accomplishments during the past year.
The award is presented for its creative Law Day 2006 program held on Thursday, May 4, and Friday, May 5, 2006, for high school students in Escambia County.
An ongoing project for several years, the program involves the senior class of Flomaton High School, Escambia Academy, Escambia County High School, T.R. Miller High School, and W.S. Neal High School.
High school seniors participate in an actual criminal trial. Through the bar association's efforts in coordination with the Escambia County Clerk's Office and the District and Circuit Judges' offices, each senior receives a summons for jury duty on a certain date. Various attorneys go to each of the high schools prior to Law Week, and explain to the seniors the operation of the criminal court system, and a deputy sheriff accompanies the attorney to distribute the summons to the seniors for their appearance in court.
Each high school submits four names of seniors to serve on a jury and a jury of 12 of the seniors is seated based on recommendations of senior class sponsors and high school principals.
An actual trial is held with a defendant involving a real case.
Obviously the state and the defense have worked a plea agreement based on the outcome of the case such as if the defendant is found not guilty then the verdict stands, however if the verdict is guilty then a pre-arranged plea to a lesser charge is generally included.
All this is approved before hand by the judges though no one knows the outcome of the jury trial until the high school jury actually makes its decision.
The trials last two days, and notable leaders of the bar and the judiciary are present to speak throughout the day.
This year's speakers included Bobby Segall, president of the Alabama State Bar, Associate Justice Lyn Stuart of the Alabama Supreme Court, Judge Sue Bell Cobb from the Court of Criminal Appeals, and Scott Powell, President of the Alabama Trial Lawyers Association.
During the day the Escambia County Democratic Executive Committee Awards Presentation were made to essay contest winners.
Local Pepsi distributor provided snacks and drinks during the break between the state's case and the defendant's case.
During jury deliberations, local District Judge J. David Jordan conducted a question and answer session, and discussed pertinent statutes, jurisdiction, drug cases, DUI and other issues.
Local dignitaries included Sheriff Grover Smith, attorney Reo Kirkland, Circuit Judge Bradley E. Byrne, Circuit Judge Joseph B. Brogden, Stephen M, Billy, District Attorney, and attorney Jeffrey E. Stearns.