The Kings County Supreme Court held its annual Law Day celebration where it recognized the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in front of Brooklyn’s most prestigious judges and lawyers in Downtown Brooklyn on Wednesday.
It also hosted students from Mott Hall Bridges Academy, which held an essay contest in honor of Law Day. The two winning students — Rhonda Arnold and Summareign Baynes — read their essays aloud before receiving awards and gift certificates from Hon. Bernard Graham.
Law Day, which is officially May 1, is a national day meant to celebrate the rule of law. The original idea for Law Day came from Charles S. Rhyne, who was legal counsel to then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was first observed on Feb. 5, 1958.
Hon. Matthew D’Emic was the keynote speaker at this year’s celebration, but remarks were also given by Hon. Randall T. Eng, Hon. Zachary Carter, corporation counsel to the city of New York, and Rebecca Rose Woodland, president of the Brooklyn Bar Association.
“The Brooklyn Bar Association has a great relationship with our court system,” Woodland said. “It’s been made possible because of the great men and women who sit on the bench and make themselves available to the bar. The healthy relationship that the courts and bar have only helps to serve the people we represent.”
“I always look forward to the Law Day celebration,” said Carter, who started his career as an assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn back in 1975. “It’s an occasion for not necessarily celebrating the rule of law, but also justice. All that matters to the people who appear before us is that the court system yields justice. There is a difference between the two, but you cannot have one without the other.”
Judge D’Emic focused his speech on the Magna Carta and jokingly began to read it in its original Latin before he stopped.
“It’s about 4,000 words long, and about 3,900 of them are boring,” D’Emic joked.
“Why are we celebrating the Magna Carta 800 years later?” D’Emic said in a more serious tone. “It’s really because there has to be a check or limit on governmental power. Citizens are entitled to be covered by the law of the land. Individual property or freedom should not depend on the whims of arbitrary edicts.”