Students! Know Your Rights!

The Fourth Amendment protects our rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. Yet, many students are unaware of their rights against these unreasonable searches and seizures in their school.

Discovering Justice’s panel event on November 22nd, Know Your Rights: Student 4th Amendment Privacy in Schools, provided students with the opportunity to learn from legal experts about their rights.

  • Judge Jay Blitzman – Former justice of the Massachusetts Juvenile Court and Public Defender
  • Charity Kruzel – Attorney in Charge for the Committee for Public Counsel Services’ Springfield Youth Advocacy Division
  • Mary Landergan – Adjunct Professor at Northeastern University School of Law 

Panelists discussed the constitutional rights of students in schools as well as explored the issues of over-policing and the school-to-prison pipeline, as it relates to the 4th Amendment.

Many students participating in Discovering Justice’s Mock Trial Program attended the virtual panel and gained valuable information to use as they prepared for their culminating trials through the program.

“This was such an important and timely panel discussion given the cultural climate we face. Information is powerful and students are empowered because they are more informed about their 4th Amendment rights,” said Maureen Hickey, a Brockton middle school teacher and teacher coordinator of the West Middle School Mock Trial Team.

You can watch a recording of the event here.

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Trial by Jury: Does the American Jury System Bring about Justice?

America holds 80% of the jury trials in the world, yet less than 5% of cases in the judicial system go to a jury trial. How did we get here? Is having this low percentage of cases where the American judicial system should be?

These were some of the questions panelists took on during Discovering Justice’s November 14th Courthouse event Trial by Jury: Does the American Jury System Bring About Justice?

Moderated by Discovering Justice Executive Director Matt Wilson, the panel hosted Senior United States District Judge, the Honorable William G. Young, Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School Dehlia Umunna, Former Federal Public Defender for Massachusetts, Miriam Conrad, and Assistant United States Attorney Dustin Chao.

Judge Young spoke about the unique and powerful role that jurors play as constitutional officers. Professor Umunna talked about the racial bias in the jury trial process that results in the incarceration rates for black males being more than five times that of white males. Chao and Conrad brought their unique perspectives as federal prosecuting and defense attorneys and the impact that jury trials have on the preparation and presentation of their cases.

“I greatly enjoyed the lively and thoughtful discussion that was generated by hearing different perspectives from a federal judge, a prosecutor, a public defender, and a law professor, all of whom are talented and very passionate about what they do,” commented Jerry Howland, a Boston Public School educator who attended the event.

You can watch a recording of the event here. More Courthouse events are being planned by Discovering Justice and the Moakley Courthouse for the Spring of 2023.

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