On Saturday, March 1st, a group of students from Atlanta’s Coan Middle School joined John Marshall faculty and students for their inaugural Youth and the Law Summit. The Summit, sponsored by Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in partnership with the Gate City Bar Association, is designed to give minority students the opportunity to think critically about ethical and practical implications of the law. This year’s Summit, organized by Profs. Renata Turner and Kamina Pinder, and Darrick McDuffie of King and Spalding, focused on topics that have a direct and present impact on students’ lives. For instance, breakout sessions conducted by JMLS students Corey Martin, Mark Calhoun, Tiffany Simmons, Quisha Riche and Nicole Page, analyzed recent saggy pants and anti-gang legislation.
Shareef Cousins, an innocent man sentenced to death at the age of 16, engaged the students in an interactive lecture in the afternoon. After the lecture, graduates from Gate City’s Justice Robert Benham Law Camp conducted a mock trial based on the facts that led to Mr. Cousin’s wrongful conviction. Students gave brilliant opening and closing arguments, demonstrating their potential to become tomorrow’s great legal minds.
The students’ enthusiasm for the Summit continued after they returned to Coan. Their teacher, Mr. Charles Hawk, reports that students who previously wanted to become athletes or singers are now talking about becoming lawyers. They completed a bulletin board to commemorate their experience and expressed their desire to participate in the program next year. Two students will get that opportunity as they will be selected to participate in the upcoming 2008 Justice Benham Law Camp. John Marshall looks forward to continuing and expanding the Summit next year to reach even more future lawyers.