CBA Celebrates Law Day 2023

Written Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The CBA Civics Education Committee held its annual Law Day Celebration at the Connecticut Appellate Court in Hartford on May 5. Law Day is a national celebration held annually to celebrate the role of law in our society and to help encourage a deeper understanding of the legal profession. The theme that the American Bar Association chose for this year’s Law Day was “Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility, and Collaboration.

Chief Judge William H. Bright, Jr. of the Connecticut Appellate Court opened this year’s event, welcomed guests to the Law Day celebration, and thanked those who had organized the event’s activities. CBA President Daniel J. Horgan provided remarks at the event and reflected on the concept of civility and its role in the law. He encouraged students to recognize and call out incivility in society and stated that doing so, “will require three different ‘C’s: courage, confidence, and commitment—the courage to do the right thing and face peer pressure; the confidence to believe that your brain, your gut, and your common sense is right so trust it; and finally, the commitment to always treat others with respect and dignity.”

Students from Hartford Classical Magnet School participated in facilitated discussions before members of the Connecticut Appellate Court, including Chief Judge William H. Bright, Jr.; Hon. Nina F. Elgo; Hon. José A. Suarez; and Hon. Ingrid L. Moll.

Retired Superior Court Judge John Boland introduced the student program portion of the event, which consisted of three facilitated discussions with groups of students from Hartford’s Classical Magnet School. The students argued the merits of real-world cases focused on contentious issues related to civility that raise questions regarding the legal limitations of freedom of speech and expression. The students that participated in this year’s discussions included:

 Thomas Ahima
 Victoria Hernandez-Maritnez
 Godwin Akoumani
 Adrianna Jimenez
 Rashid Appah
 Daniella Johnson
 Gabriella Bois
 Adrian Marsh
 Jada Bradley
 Iryna Vasylkiv
 Uzoma Chukwurah
 Olivia Yotte

Following the student program, this year’s Ralph J. Monaco Memorial Civics Education Awards were presented to three Connecticut high school students by Dina Monaco, the wife of past CBA President Ralph J. Monaco, who the award was posthumously named after, began the presentation of awards by speaking about her late husband’s belief in the importance of civics education. “I’m sure Ralph would be humbled to see such a bright group of young students involved in civics education,” she remarked. “I implore you to continue your passion for the law as my husband did and to continue working to achieve justice.”

 2023 Ralph J. Monaco Memorial Civics Education Award
(From Left to Right) CBA President Daniel J. Horgan; Lawrence Morizio; Daniel A. Schwartz; Livia D. Barndollar; John R. Weikart; 2023 Ralph J. Monaco Memorial Civics Education Award recipients Jay Zimmerman, William Barry, and Isabella Saraco; Dina Monaco; Jonathan Weiner; Connecticut Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas; Hon. Matthew D. Gordon

This year’s winners of the Ralph J. Monaco Memorial Civics Education Awards were William Barry of Old Lyme High School, Isabella Saraco of Mercy High School, and Jay Zimmermann of Waterford High School. CBA Civics Education Committee Co-Chair Jonathan Weiner prasied the achievements of each recipient before calling them up to receive their award. The award was provided to these students based on their demonstration of a significant commitment to advancing civic engagement, civics education, and/or the rule of law. Along with the award, the three students each received a $1,000 grant.

At the end of the event, the students walked up to the state capitol where they were able to meet with Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas, who spoke to the students about the importance of civic engagement, participation in democratic elections, and increasing access to early voting.

Thank you to all those who participated in this year’s Law Day celebration and congratulations to the winners of this year’s Ralph J. Monaco Civics Education Awards!