May 2017

Law Day 2017: Thomas Eagleton Courthouse, St. Louis, Missouri

*Article contributed by Rachel Marshall, Public Education & Community Outreach Specialist

Our annual Law Day event was held at the Eagleton Courthouse on Tuesday, May 2. Participating students and teachers were from Northwest Academy of Law and Soldan International Studies High School, which are St. Louis Public Schools, and Webster Groves High School. In preparation for the field trip, students worked on lesson plans about the Fourteenth Amendment and wrote essays on the amendment to be entered into a contest.
On Law Day, winners from each school were announced by the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court, Rodney W. Sippel. The first-place students and their sponsoring teachers attended the Law Day Lunch on Friday, May 5, sitting with the Judges and court officers of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Eastern District of Missouri District and Bankruptcy Courts. The Law Day Lunch, hosted by the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, featured U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as the keynote speaker.
After the essay contest winners were announced, the students visited the Judicial Learning Center and an active courtroom, where they observed court proceedings and chatted with attorneys and U.S. Magistrate Judges John M. Bodenhausen and Patricia L. Cohen.
Following court, the students were introduced to a fictional scenario based on Mapp v. Ohio, and many students were assigned roles to play. Over lunch, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Nannette A. Baker, Assistant Federal Public Defender Brocca Morrison, and Assistant United States Attorney Dianna Collins gave brief presentations, and then each coached a team of students to participate in a mock evidentiary hearing.

In the afternoon, the simulated hearing was held in a courtroom, with students playing all roles, guided by their professional counterparts. Judge Baker presided with the assistance of several student judges. As a team, they resolved important issues dealing with evidence and search warrants. Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from students and teachers, it was a successful and memorable event. The students gave high ratings to the courtroom observations, the judge chats, and the mock evidentiary hearing.