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NCBA Commemorates Law Day 2015

NCBA Commemorates Law Day 2015

Moot Court finalists, front from left, Kayla Viana, Katie Purello, Alexis McAlister and Jordan Franco, pose with the judging panel of Judge Chris Dillon, Justices Barbara Jackson, Paul Newby, Robert Edmunds, Robin Hudson and Cheri Beasley, and Judge Mark Davis.

Students from across the state gathered in Raleigh on Friday, May 1, as the North Carolina Bar Association observed Law Day 2015. Joining the students who are being honored for their efforts in the annual Law Week competitions was the Hon. Sammie Chess Jr. who received the Liberty Bell Award.

The Liberty Bell award is presented annually by the NCBA’s Young Lawyers Division, which organizes Law Week festivities, in recognition of an individual “who has strengthened the American System of freedom under law.”

The students were recognized for their efforts in essay writing, poster art and moot court. The finals of the moot court competition were conducted Friday morning before a panel of N.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals justices and judges, respectively.

Comprising the moot court panel of judges were Justices Robert H. Edmunds Jr., Paul M. Newby, Robin E. Hudson, Barbara Jackson and  Cheri Beasley of the North Carolina Supreme Court and Judges Mark A. Davis and R. Christopher Dillon of the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Jordan Franco and Alexis McAlister of South Point High School in Belmont defeatedKatie Purello and Kayla Viana of Highland School of Technology in Gastonia for the Moot Court title.

The competition was followed by an awards luncheon at the City Club where NCBA President Catharine Arrowood presented the Law Day Proclamation issued by Gov. Pat McCrory.

The student competition winners were:
Essay Contest Winners | Junior High (Grades: 6-8)
1st Place | Adam Boykin, Wake Christian Academy, Raleigh
2nd Place | Carter B. Jones, Jones Home School, Raleigh
3rd Place | Jennifer Sieredzki, Riverwood Middle School, Clayton

Photo Essay Contest Winners | Junior High (Grades: 6-8)
1st Place | Malik Gordon, D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, Wilmington
2nd Place | Liliana Breitinger, FJ Carnage Magnet Middle School, Raleigh
3rd Place | Willie Mack, Jr., D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, Wilmington
Honorable Mention | Bridgette Tran, Resurrection Lutheran School, Cary

Poster Art Contest Winners | Grades: 3-5
1st Place | Taylor A. Jones, Jones Home School, Raleigh
2nd Place | Jason Newton, W.M. Irvin Elementary, Concord
3rd Place | Fabian Q. Renteria, W.M. Irvin Elementary, Concord
Honorable Mention | Melissa M. Flores, W.M. Irvin Elementary, Concord
Honorable Mention | Kenston T. Seltzer, W.M. Irvin Elementary, Concord

Judge Sammie Chess Jr. accepts Liberty Bell Award from Justice Paul Newby, left, and Judge Julian Mann, right.

Judge Chess is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and the NCCU School of Law, having attended when it was North Carolina College. After graduation from law school in 1958 and admission to the bar, he served in the United States Army in the demilitarized zone of South Korea.

Two years later Chess opened his law practice in High Point and became one of the state’s premier civil rights attorneys. In 1971 he became the first African American to serve on the N.C. Superior Court, a position he held until 1975.

In the 1990s Judge Chess returned to the bench, serving 15 years as a state administrative law judge based in High Point. Prior to his retirement he received the National Association of the Administrative Law Judiciary’s highest honor.

Chess is a past president of the High Point Bar Association and a member of both African American Cultural Complex’s Hall of Fame and the National Bar Association’s Hall of Fame.

Previous winners of the Liberty Bell Award are Maj. Gen. (retired) James B. Mallory III, Patricia Timmons-Goodson, Earl Britt, Burley Mitchell, Harry C. Martin, Janice McKenzie Cole, Stacy C. Eggers Jr., E. Maurice Braswell, Herbert L. Richardson, William Joslin, Henry Frye, Robert R. Browning, Lacy Thornburg, James B. Hunt Jr., William C. Friday, Sam J. Ervin III, Terry Sanford, Herbert H. Taylor Jr., James Dickson Phillips Jr., Wade E. Brown, Hiram H. Ward, Kathrine Everett, L. Richardson Preyer, J. Frank Huskins, McNeill Smith, Franklin T. Dupree Jr., Thad Eure, Joseph Branch, Dr. Robert E. Lee, William B. Aycock, Susie Sharp and Sam Ervin Jr.

The national observance of Law Day was first proclaimed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on February 3, 1958, and is celebrated annually by the NCBA on the first Friday in May.

Funding for Law Day and Law Week events is provided by the Beverly C. Moore Justice Fund of the NCBA Foundation.

Christina S. Hayes and Tenisha S. Jacobs co-chaired the Young Lawyers Division’s Law Week Committee, where they received support from fellow YLD members Debolina Das, Shawn J. Handy, Jennifer C. Henson, Sherri H. Lawrence, Laura McHenry, Kimberly S. Murrell, John W. O’Hale, Tina Simpson, Josephine N. A. Tetteh, Caroline L. Trautman, Ashleigh Dunston, Maria Hawkins, Andrew Hayes, Shannon Hoff, Alyssa Kisby, Carolina Mackie, Lareena Phillips, Beth Tanner and Phillip J. Long.