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Local Law Day Event Recognized As Best In The Country

Interim San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan (left) and Californ...

Credit: City Heights Law Day

Above: Interim San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan (left) and California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), pose while cutting a cake at the second annual City Heights Law Day event in April 2017.

A national professional organization of lawyers honored a local group for its celebration of an annual informational event about the legal system.

The American Bar Association recognized this month The Friends of City Heights Library for its 2017 City Heights Law Day.

The Friends of the City Heights Library Law Day Committee Co-Chair Araceli Martinez said she was thrilled to learn of the Best Public Program designation, which commended the one-on-one legal consultations that the event provided, according to a post on the association's Facebook page.

“People are already calling the library asking, ‘When are the lawyers coming back?’ because they’re already lining up their questions for the many different topics that we cover,” Martinez said.

Law Day events this year focused on the 14th Amendment, which established due process and equality under the law. The celebration in City Heights, where U.S. Census estimates show about 40 percent of residents were born outside the country, included panels on a range of legal topics and political issues, such as immigration.

Martinez said one discussion with public defenders helped address the community’s concerns about encounters with law enforcement.

“They walked through whether you’re walking down the street and approached by a police officer, whether you're in your home, whether you’re in your car, what to do in those situations,” Martinez said.

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott, then-San Diego County Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan and the area's elected representatives, San Diego City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez and California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, also participated in the event.

The ABA said the variety of the event's curriculum contributed to its win.

"Your collaboration with community organizations an array of engaging programming that impacted a diverse public audience were well received by the awards review committee," a Nov. 10 notification letter said.

The Friends of the City Heights Library will receive a monetary gift and plaque at the association's midyear meeting in February, and the City Heights Law Day event will be featured as a "best practice program" in the ABA's 2018 Law Day planning materials, the document said.

The third annual City Heights Law Day is set for April 28, 2018. National Law Day falls on May 1. President Dwight Eisenhower first established the proclamation in 1968.

The American Bar Association recognized the City Heights Law Day 2017 event, which focused on informing the public about their 14th Amendment rights.

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