John Adams from Boston to Guantanamo

Historic City News has been informed that Governor Rick Scott has signed a proclamation recognizing May 1st as “Law Day” in Florida.

Many educational programs, community functions and public ceremonies will take place throughout the business-week of May 2 – May 6, 2011, including local events that enhance the public’s understanding of the law and the legal system. Events traditionally include speaking engagements at local schools, mock trial competitions, community forums and discussions, legal advice clinics, essay and poster contests and much more.

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1958 presidential proclamation and a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress declared May 1 as “a special day of celebration by the American people in appreciation of their liberties” and as an occasion for “rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under laws.”

The 2011 Law Day theme, “The Legacy of John Adams from Boston to Guantanamo,” provides us with an opportunity to access and celebrate the legacy of John Adams, explore the historical and contemporary role of lawyers in defending the rights of the accused, and renew our understanding of and appreciation for the fundamental principle of the rule of law.

John Adams became our nation’s first lawyer-president in 1797. Just five years before the American Revolutionary War began; he represented the British officer and soldiers charged with firing into a crowd of protestors and killing five civilians in the “Boston Massacre.”

In 1770, John Adams was already a prominent leader in the American colonial resistance to British parliamentary authority; Adams agreed to take on the cases and ably defended the accused at trial.

His role in the 1770 Boston Massacre trials has come to be seen as a lawyerly exemplar of adherence to the rule of law and defense of the rights of the accused, even in cases when advocates may represent unpopular clients and become involved in matters that generate public controversy. He did so because of his faith in due process of law, in what he would later famously phrase as “a government of laws, not of men.”

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