A group of 21 talented sixth graders from Cranbrook Girls Middle School in Bloomfield Hills has won a $1,000 grand prize award in the State Bar of Michigan's second annual Law Day Contest. Second place in the contest, and a $750 prize, goes to a group composed of leaders of the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association, youth involved in the Turning Point of Lansing, and various volunteers.
The grand prize winners, led by attorney advisors Gerard Mantese, Theresamarie Mantese, and Gregory Nowakowski, wrote, acted in, and submitted a 34-minute video discussing the United States' internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and Justice Frank Murphy's famous dissent from the majority Supreme Court opinion upholding this internment. The trial was the subject of a 1996 State Bar Michigan Legal Milestone. Contest entrants had to link this year's Law Day theme "Michigan—Realizing the Dream: Equality for All" to one or more Michigan Legal Milestones.
The Cranbrook Girls Middle School will receive a $1,000 grand prize award to put toward law-related education efforts.
Brookside student winners include Mahshad Afshar, Yasmeen Amjad, Srujana Annavarapu, Julia Bolton, Kalah Brown, Gabrielle Gross, Sofie Harb, Zehra Husaini, Swathi Karthik, Abigail Laveroni, Emily Jones, Isabel Mantese, Claire Pearce, Sophia Moustakas, Hanna Rodriguez, Aanya Shah, Eliana Silverman, Paige Tar, Ava Trepek, Natalie Wilcox, and Dina Zreik.
Their video captures the hostility Americans of Japanese descent faced following the attack on Pearl Harbor that led to the United States' entry into World War II. It was against this backdrop that Fred Korematsu, a young Japanese American, was ordered by the military to leave his home and report to an internment camp. In 1944, a United States Supreme Court majority upheld his exclusion as a valid exercise of military authority. Murphy, a Harbor Beach native and U. S. Supreme Court justice from 1940-1949, dissented from the decision, and wrote the majority's position was nothing more than the legalization of racism.
The second-place winning group created a coloring book commemorating the State Bar's 37th Michigan Legal Milestone about the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
This year's Law Day contest was the second in what the State Bar expects to make a long-standing annual tradition. It is overseen by the SBM Law-Related Education and Public Outreach Committee.
"Committee members hope that many lawyers, students, and community groups will watch the winning video and plan now to enter the contest next year," SBM LRE-PO Committee Chair Margaret Krasnoff said. "It would be great to see entries from groups in different parts of the state, and projects from groups working together on interactive or cooperative contest entries."
View the Winning Entries