To commemorate Constitution Day on September 17, the Berrien County bench and bar is presenting a program entitled "Education for Everyday Democracy: The Jury Process" to two area high schools. Students at Benton Harbor and St. Joseph High School will be taught the importance of being a juror and the jury's role in our democratic system.
Chief Judge Al Butzbaugh and attorney Tom Fette kicked off the program last week. This week, attorneys Brian Berger and Andrew Burch also present at the two schools. These sessions will include a discussion of United States Supreme Court cases, analysis of the story This is Our Town Too, and the viewing of the DVD It Isn't Fair if You're Not There.
Following a week of presentations, on September 16, about 125 students from both high schools will report to the Berrien County Courthouse as if for jury duty. They will listen to presentations from court administrators and judges. "I am pleased that all of the partners have worked very well together to bring this to pass. I am hopeful that it will have a lasting impact on the students," said Judge Mabel Mayfield, from the Berrien County Probate Court.
September 17, 1787 was the day 39 men signed our Constitution in Philadelphia. In 2005, federal law declared September 17 to be "Constitution Day" and required all federally funded schools to educate students about the Constitution. The "Educating for Everyday Democracy: The Jury Process" program was created by the State Bar of Michigan in partnership with the Michigan Center for Civic Education. More information about Constitution Day, including materials available to lawyers, teachers, and the public, can be found on the Constitution Day Website.