The Sussex County Bar Association will welcome the public to the annual Law Day celebration on Thursday, May 1st, at 7:00 p.m., at the historic Sussex County Court House in Newton. Law Day 2014 will focus on “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters” in recognition of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A lecture on this theme of “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” as eloquently stated by Abraham Lincoln, will be offered by Mark Hontz, Esquire.
The event will also honor the success of the Mock Trial team from High Point Regional High School, and recognize the Honorable Lorraine C. Parker, J.A.D. (retired) with an unveiling of her portrait. Sussex County Bar Association President Nancy Reading will be on hand to greet all guests. Law Day USA is a celebration of the Rule of Law in the United States which was first proclaimed in 1958 by President Eisenhower. The event occurs annually on or near the first day of May. In recognition of the importance of the right to vote in America, local attorneys will also visit area middle schools and high schools on May 1st.
Each year the Sussex County Bar Association selects a member of the legal profession whose lifetime service to the law merits recognition at Law Day. This year, the Honorable Lorraine Parker, J.A.D. (retired), will be honored for her service to the practice of law. Ms. Parker served as the Appointed Judge of the Appellate Division from 2001 – 2009. Prior to that position, Ms. Parker served as the Appointed Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, presiding over criminal, civil, probate and family law cases. She was a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court Domestic Violence Task Force and served on the Oversight Committee for Permanent Placement of Children in Foster Care, among many other laudable posts. She initiated Project Self-Sufficiency’s life skills program for inmates in the Sussex County jail, along with the “Kids Club” program for children of divorcing parents and children whose families have been involved with domestic violence disputes. Ms. Parker has received numerous commendations and awards from local organizations and educational institutions, and has volunteered in a variety of capacities with non-profit organizations, including Sussex County Community College, the Sussex County Bar Association, Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice, Sparta Township Board of Education, SCARC, and the League of Women Voters, among others. “I am retired from the bench, but I am not retired from living,” jokes Ms. Parker. On receiving the Law Day award, Ms. Parker notes, “It’s a real privilege to be honored by the Sussex County Bar Association. I am very humbled. Being involved with the field of law is such a privilege. I had a wonderful career.” She advises young attorneys to take advantage of opportunities in their community, as she did throughout her career. “I advise people to always say “yes” when the opportunity arises, because it makes a difference.”
At the Law Day observance, Michael Nelms, Esquire, will be recognized for his long-term participation in the legal assistance and education program at Project Self-Sufficiency. “Michael Nelms has given free presentations about bankruptcy and offered free consultations to local residents for more than 20 years,” noted Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director at Project Self-Sufficiency. “He has demonstrated compassion and a unique commitment to the participants he has advised through our program. We are grateful to Michael and to all of the attorneys who have volunteered their time on behalf of the clients of Project Self-Sufficiency during this past year, and we look forward to continuing this successful partnership for years to come.”
The Law Day celebration will also recognize the award-winning High Point Regional High School Mock Trial team which finished in first place, beating teams from seven other Sussex County high schools at the competition. The Mock Trial Competition is sponsored annually by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation to provide high school students with the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills and careful fact analysis. During the event, each team must present a case to a judge, with students serving as witnesses and attorneys. Each team is judged based on their performance, with local attorneys volunteering as coaches.
This project is cosponsored by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and made possible through funding from the IOLTA Fund of the Bar of New Jersey. For additional information about the Foundation’s other law-related activities, please call 1-800-FREE-LAW or visit the Foundation on the Web at www.njsbf.org.