The following is a reproduction of portions of an article published by Salvatore Zambri, senior partner at Regan Zambri & Long, which he wrote while he served as President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Although he wrote the article in 2007, it is appropriate to publish it again since this year’s Law Day will be celebrated by our nation tomorrow, on May 1, 2009.
A LOT TO CELEBRATE:
On May 1, our nation commemorated Law Day, the brain-child of Attorney Charles Rhyne. In 1958, Mr. Rhyne drafted a proposed U.S. Presidential Proclamation and presented it to President Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff, Sherman Adams. The proposal, however, did not make its way out of Mr. Adams’ office.
Mr. Rhyne eventually went to visit Mr. Adams. Having been assured by Mr. Adams that President Eisenhower would “not sign a proclamation praising lawyers,” Mr. Rhyne described what happened next: “I strode down to the Oval Office and handed it to President Eisenhower himself. As he stood there reading it, Adams burst in yelling, ‘Do not sign that paper praising lawyers!'” President Eisenhower signed the proclamation over Mr. Adams’ objection, believing that the freedoms enjoyed by Americans and the rule of law should be commemorated.
“Now, therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Thursday, May 1, 1958, as Law Day – U.S.A. I urge the people of the United States to observe the designated day with appropriate ceremonies and activities; and I especially urge the legal profession, the press and the radio, television and the motion picture industries to promote and to participate in the observance of that day.”
The 2007 Law Day theme was “Liberty Under Law: Empowering Youth, Assuring Democracy.” The theme clearly recognizes that our children will shape our country’s future. Consequently, we have the responsibility to teach them about the justice system, the process of the law, and the liberties we enjoy.
Three days after Law Day, at the United States Supreme Court, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of 6th Grade winners of an annual essay contest sponsored by the National Capital Lawyers’ Auxiliary. I seized upon the theme of the 2007 Law Day Proclamation and suggested that no matter what profession we choose, we must all be intolerant of social injustice and that the privilege of freedom, earned through the courage of those who came before us, must not be taken for granted. I challenged them to advance America’s promise of equal and fair justice for all. Having heard their essays, I was inspired . . .
About a week ago, all Americans celebrated the 4th of July holiday, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That document, you will remember, was drafted by merchants, clergy, farmers, soldiers, lawyers, and physicians. This diverse group joined together and declared: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness….”
Lawyer Thomas Jefferson, who initially drafted the declaration, remarked in his first inaugural address: “It is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government, . . . freedom of religion; freedom of the press; freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus and trial by juries impartially selected.”
In July 1776, the clangs of the Liberty Bell resonated throughout the world. In recent years, many have seemingly forgotten the lessons bestowed upon us by that diverse assembly of representatives. Special interest groups and those with personal agendas seek to redefine the civil justice system, forcing victims of wrongdoing to be treated differently and unequal under the law. They need a refresher course on American history. . .
If you have any questions about the law or your legal rights, please feel free to contact Mr. Zambri at [email protected], or call him at 202-822-1899.