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A Different Kind of ‘Law Day Yosemite’ This Year

By Carol Moses

The Law Day Yosemite 2020 celebration was scheduled to be held May 8 at the Curry Village Amphitheater in Yosemite Valley. Law Day is like a holiday for attorneys… it is a national day to celebrate the Rule of Law and its contributions to the freedoms Americans enjoy.

May 8 was last Friday. Yosemite National Park is closed. The schools are administering their lessons online or by Zoom.

To say we had a different kind of Law Day is an understatement; but nonetheless, Law Day Yosemite 2020 moved forward, and with the Master of Ceremonies the Honorable U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremey D. Peterson, we celebrated the Rule of Law by Zoom.

Law Day had its origin in 1957, when American Bar Association (ABA) President Charles S. Rhyne envisioned a special day for celebrating our legal system. On February 3, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day by issuing a Proclamation. Every President since then has issued an annual Law Day Proclamation. Presidential Proclamations are published in the Federal Register.

On April 7, 1961, Congress passed a Joint Resolution, Pub. L. 87-20, 75 Stat. 42, designating May 1 as Law Day, U.S.A. This Public Law has been codified in Title 36, Section 113 of the United States Code. The Joint Resolution requests the President to issue a Proclamation each year and provides that Law Day: “is a special day of celebration by the people of the United States…in appreciation of their liberties and the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States and of their rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under law in their relations with each other and with other countries; …for the cultivation of the respect for the law that is so vital to the democratic way of life…inviting the people of the United States to observe Law Day, U.S.A., with appropriate ceremonies and in other appropriate ways, through public entitles and private organization and in schools and other suitable places.”

Every year since 2013, the San Joaquin Valley Chapter of the Federal Bar Association invites 8th grade students from schools surrounding Yosemite National Park to celebrate Law Day. The event is a community endeavor which involves the National Park Service, Aramark, Yosemite Hospitality, the Yosemite Conservancy, the Eastern District of California and many local businesses.

Law Day has grown each year and this year we expected 433 students.

Highlights are the a capella soloist Lauren Boone, a student herself, singing the National Anthem, first grade students from the Yosemite Elementary School leading the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Park Service Horse Mounted Color Guard, the Clovis West Jazz Band, snacks and lunches donated by Bee Sweet Citrus, Sun Maid and Subway. The Bill of Rights Institute donated pocket U.S. Constitutions.

The students are invited to participate in an essay contest (this year the theme was the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment) with the top three finalists receiving awards. The students listen to a keynote speaker on the topic they wrote their essays and have an opportunity to meet and speak with the Federal and State local judiciary before receiving lunch and boarding their bus home.

The student essays were juried and the top four were decided.

The winner Bryce Nicholson from Tenya Elementary read his essay to the Zoom attendees, which included U.S. District Court Chief Judge Kimberly Mueller, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Ishii, Senior U.S. District Court Judge William B. Shubb, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan, U.S. Magistrate Judges Barbara McAuliffe, and Sheila Oberto, and Retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Seng.

Second place winner was Erica Wohlgemuth from Oak Creek Intermediate, and Tillyanna Healey from Woodland Elementary took third place.

Honorable mention went to Robert Gresham from Coarsegold Elementary.

The essays in full and the judges comments about the essays are posted on the Eastern District of California Website under Law Day. The link is below.


Law Day Yosemite 2021 is scheduled for May 7, 2021, hopefully in Yosemite Valley at Curry Village.

Please direct any Law Day Yosemite inquiries to Carol Moses at carol@yosemitelawyer.com.

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