On May 11, 2018, approximately 40 students from North Miami Senior High attended the Court’s annual Law Day event. The day began with the students observing a Naturalization ceremony presided over by United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez in the History Miami Museum’s atrium. United States District Judges Beth Bloom and Patricia A. Seitz attended, and welcomed the students and many of the ceremony’s attendees. Judge Martinez instilled in the attendees the great honor it was to become an American citizen, the pride they and their families in attendance should have, and the responsibilities associated with becoming a citizen. The attendees, including the students, were then treated to an address by United States Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who spoke about her arrival to America at a young age and how she has lived the American dream, and inspired those in attendance to do the same.
The students then were given an opportunity to visit the History Miami Museum, where a guide walked them through the many fascinating exhibits in the museum, and the students were also given an opportunity to explore the exhibits on their own.
From the museum, the students were escorted to the federal courthouse, where they observed Judge Bloom conduct a criminal sentencing for a defendant who had previously pled guilty to illegally reentering the country. The students witnessed both the prosecutor and the defense attorney make their arguments to the Court, and the defendant’s sister and the defendant himself address the Court, before the Court, in consideration of all legal and factual circumstances, imposed its sentence.
Subsequent to the sentencing, the students were treated to a presentation by United States Magistrate Judge Lauren F. Louis on the Law Day theme of Separation of Powers. Judge Louis masterfully engaged the students with practical applications of the concept of the three branches of government, drawing upon what they had just witnessed in the sentencing.
The students, after being treated to lunch outside the courtroom, were brought back into Judge Bloom’s courtroom for a panel presentation entitled “Paths and Challenges to Success.” The panel consisted of Judge Louis, Assistant Federal Public Defender Sowmya Bharathi, Stephanie Turk of the Gunster law firm, and Assistant United States Attorneys Gera Peoples and Randy Katz, moderated by Russell Koonin, president of the Federal Bar Association, South Florida Chapter. The panelists all told heartfelt stories about the obstacles they faced in becoming lawyers and how they got to where they are today, and provided insight and guidance to aid the students in forging their future career paths.
A special thank you to everyone who organized the wonderful event, and to the students and chaperones at North Miami Senior High for attending!
- Category: Civics & Community Outreach / Law Clerks
- Date: May 11, 2018