|Montgomery County Courthouse|
With the theme “Miranda, More Than Words,” Montgomery County’s legal community gathered last Friday to celebrate Law Day during a cheerful ceremony.
“Law Day is a special day of celebration by the people of the United States wherein we celebrate our commitment to the rule of law and to upholding the fundamental principles enshrined in our founding documents. It aids us in rededicating ourselves with the ideals of equality and justice and helps us to continue to cultivate respect for the law, which is so vital to our democratic way of life,” President Judge William J. Furber Jr. said during his opening remarks to the crowd of more than 100 that gathered in the county’s ceremonial courtroom for the annual celebration.
Speaking about the 1966 case Miranda vs Arizona, Furber said “it reshaped our entire jurisprudence.”
“Miranda has been the most frequently cited case in the history of the Republic. It was indeed, more than words, because the court brought the Bill of Rights into a contemporary understanding. Miranda expressed the vitality of the Constitution but also gave litigants a remedy under the Constitution if their rights were violated, namely suppression of the statements that were allegedly made,” Furber added.
“The Miranda warnings become so ingrained in our popular culture that many know all of its words starting with, ‘You have the right to remain silent,’” Furber continued. “Yet, as the Law Day theme implies, there is much more to Miranda than the words of the warning. It is a living symbol of the importance of procedural fairness and equal justice under the law.”
Judge Todd Eisenberg, who joined the county bench in January, presented the Law Day address, focusing on the Miranda theme.
The annual ceremony included the admission and introduction of the Montgomery Bar Association’s newest members, who were greeted with thunderous applause from the audience.
“For those who will be inducted you will become members of the most efficient, courteous and professional Bar Association within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Take advantage of your membership and all that it has to offer,” said Furber.
“It’s a wonderful place to meet other lawyers and discuss issues of mutual interest while at the same time making what often become lifelong friends. Never will you find a group of lawyers so willing to help those who are embarking upon their new careers. Their experience and advice is an invaluable tool which will benefit you in ways you can never imagine,” Furber said to the new inductees, referring to the association they joined. “This is a relationship that has been cultivated over the years and allows us to work hand-in-hand to provide the framework necessary to promote the practice of law in Montgomery County.”
Michael E. Furey, chair of the association’s Law Day Committee, explained Law Day was established in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower by proclamation and in 1961, a joint resolution by Congress set May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day.
“I guess I was about 11 or 12 years old when I first heard about Miranda Warnings on a police show on TV. Unfortunately, I’m old enough to remember the police shows before the Miranda Warnings were required,” Furey joked, eliciting some laughter from spectators. “Even at that young age it impressed me of how important it was for somebody accused of a crime to be warned of their rights under the law. That made me proud of our justice system and made me want to know more about it. And eventually I wanted to be part of it.”
During the celebration, Carolyn R. Mirabile, president of the bar association, presented county employees Richard Falcone and Cheryl Leslie with the Courthouse Employee Award, for helping the courts administer justice to the citizens of Montgomery County and providing outstanding service on a daily basis. Falcone is a district court senior clerk and Leslie is deputy court administrator in Family Court.
The bar association's Henry Stuckert Miller Public Service Award was presented to lawyer Marilou Watson
Jeannette Fernandez, Gotwals Elementary School principal, received the annual Public Service Award, presented to a non-lawyer who performs outstanding work for county citizens. Lawyer Harry Chung was presented the Pro Bono Volunteer Award.
Chloe Berger, Kate Krakopolsky, Samantha Panich, Ruth Thomas, Katy Blankenhorn, Victoria Mueller and Aviv Reif, students of Lower Moreland High School, also were honored for winning the association’s annual mock trial competition.
Their teacher coach, John Haldeman, and lawyer advisor, Ken Brodsky, also were on hand to share the honor.
Congratulations to all of those honored during the Law Day event.