Law Day Celebration Themed "Miranda Decision"; Diversity Center's Annual Walk, Rock and Run ; Cuyahoga Democratic Women's Caucus' (CDWC) 2016 "Brunch and Conversation"; 2nd Annual Celebration of Hope
On May 1st, 2016, the United States celebrated Law Day which was codified by Public Law 87-20 back in 1961. The codification read that "Law Day, U.S.A., is a special day of celebration by the people of the United States-in appreciation of their liberties and the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States and of their rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under law in their relations with each other and with other countries; and for the cultivation of the respect for law that is so vital to the democratic way of life."
Since 1916 marks the 50th anniversary of the Miranda decision, it was chosen as the theme for this year's Law Day. As Wikipedia states, it was with this decision that the Supreme Court that statements made by the accused during interrogation "will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination before police questioning, and that the defendant not only understood these rights but voluntarily waived them."
Appropriately the title of the City Club program for Friday, April 29th, was "Constitutional Challenges: Miranda meets the 21st Century" and the speaker was Ms. Cait T. Clarke, Chief of the Defender Services Office at the
Administration Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington, D.C. The community partners for this Annual Law Day Forum were the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage and its "Stop the Hate" program.
All of us there received a real treat when Miss Nupur Goel, winner of the 2016 "Stop the Hate" essay contest was called forward to read her work. The parents of Miss Goel immigrated to the United States from India and she is an 11th grader at Gilmour Academy. She wrote of the hostility that she often encountered over the years due to her race and ethnicity. This was particularly disturbing for her because her had always taught her to "value and accept the rich traditions of other cultures." Eventually she "confronted" the ill-treatment that she was receiving and learned that a large part of the reason for this is that many people were ignorant of the India's history and culture. This motivated her to draft a "course proposal designed to offer historical perspectives on humanity's major spiritual traditions." She was "ecstatic" when she learned that the course was approved and will be offered in the fall.
It was then time for Ms. Anne Owings Ford, President of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, to introduce the program. She noted that most of us who have watched a police show on can recite the Miranda warning by heart but it was important to know and understand what it was all about and there was a lot more to it than choosing not to speak during a police interrogation.
Ms. Clarke started off her presentation by praising those involved with the City Club as "fierce advocates of engagement."
She then talked about what her office does. A good description appears on the Public Defender Service website which reads that it determines "the eligibility for court-appointed counsel of almost every arrested child and adult" and coordinates the availability of such services. She believed that this embodied some of our country's core principles; even if the party being accused is guilty it is still imperative that he/she be represented properly in court because "it brings humanity to the system" and shows the entire person so that we can see how they came to do what they did. Ms. Clarke said that she was very proud of public defenders who do this.
She then talked about some of the challenges that she and her department are now confronted with such as shortages of necessary personnel and funding; the last sequester cost them 500 jobs. Ms. Clarke also talked about the need for more cultural awareness. For instance, she indicated that in Mexico a defendant telling his story during an interrogation is what is expected. Therefore, a person who immigrated to the United States from Mexico, due to the societal conditioning of his native country, may tell his/her story anyway even though the police have advised him of his Miranda rights. It is for reasons like this that Ms. Clarke believes that the defense attorneys must be involved in the criminal justice process as early as possible.
Among the people that we spoke with at this program were Mr. Milt and Ms. Tamar Maltz who said to be sure to say "hello" to Ms. Margaret W. Wong and expressed their admiration that Ms. Wong and her office are so active in the community. To no surprise, many of the attendees of this program were involved in the legal profession and, of course, quite a few of them knew or were friends of Ms. Margaret W. Wong. These included Ms. Rebecca McMahon, Executive Director of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association as well as Ms. Irene A. Rennillo and Ms. Susan M. Stephanoff, Attorneys at Law, who we sat with at lunch.
When we first arrived, we were greeted by Ms. Mary C. Groth, Director of Development and Community Programs for the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, who said that she has known Ms. Wong for 33 years going back to the days when she was a law student and Ms. Wong was a new lawyer.
On Saturday Morning, April 30th, we started the day at the annual Diversity Center's annual "Walk, Rock and Run" at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
We are proud to see that Margaret W. Wong and Associates put together a team of runners and several walkers (us) for this event and we all wore specially designed red t-shirts with the name of our firm on proud display on both the front and the back sides in black lettering.
Near the Goldfarb Weber tent, we noticed two benches with "Stand Connected" written on the back and "Sit Respected" written on the seat in multi-colored lettering. Ms. Nina Rossi of Goldfarb Weber explained to us that the benches were a product of the "lead diversity" project that teaches people the value of diversity and encourages them to explore ways to make their places of work more diverse. The benches were actually created at Max Hayes High School and they signify bringing people together to have a conversation and break stereotypes. We want to note that Goldfarb Weber is a digital storytelling firm that put together the "re-think labels" video used by the Diversity Center.
We were glad to see people carrying placards with such phrases written on them as "Diversity positively affects group performance, creativity, and innovation"; "The Diversity Center works to create communities where all people are connected, respected and valued!"; "Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and hopefully, we shall overcome." by Rosa Parks; "It is never too late to give up your prejudices." by Henry David Thoreau; "700,000 Americans Identify as Transgender"'; "1 in 8 people in the United States is an immigrant." and "A recent Stanford University Study showed that: At-risk students who participated in Ethnic Studies courses increased their attendance by 21% and saw significant GPA increases."
Before the walk and the run kicked off, we were addressed by several people including Mr. Rob Wolff, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Diversity Center. Mr. Wolff reminded us that soon the whole world would be watching Cleveland due to the RNC. Accordingly, he believed that we should show that we celebrate diversity and differences.
Mr. Russ Mitchell of WKYC said that he applauded all who were participating in this event. "Whether you run or walk," he said, "you all rock!"
Our next event for Saturday was another annual event and this one was the Cuyahoga Democratic Women's Caucus' (CDWC) 2016 "Brunch and Conversation" held at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.
This marked the third year of our attendance at this very popular, upbeat event and we enjoyed good food and, just as the title indicated, good conversation. We especially liked talking to Euclid City Councilwoman Stephana Caviness about racial diversity and what how all sides must work together in order that the consent decree yield positive results.
The two main speakers of the day were Judge Cynthia Rice, a candidate for Ohio Supreme Court, and U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who represents the 18th Congressional District of Texas.
Judge Rice spoke of her qualifications (former county and federal prosecutor as well as current appellate court judge) and encouraged all of us to read up on her and study her record.
Congresswoman Lee spoke of how much it would mean to women throughout the world if former U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton were to be the democratic nominee for U.S. President and if she went on to be elected to that office. She also talked about what a long walk it has been to pending moment of having a woman elected to the U.S. Presidency. She urged everyone to devote as much time as we can to working for worthy candidates in the upcoming election.
Along these lines, all of the women currently holding public offices, or candidates for office, were asked to line up and identify themselves. We are pleased to report that the line went almost 3/4 of the way around the room. Ms. Cindy Demsey, Chair of the CDWC, beamed and said she could remember when only 10 women answered this call at a brunch that took place years ago.
Special recognition for their progressive accomplishments were given to Ohio State Representatives Teresa Fedor (45th District), Greta Johnson (35th District), Janine Boyd (9th District), Stephanie Howse (11th District), Kathleen Clyde (75th District), and Nickie Antonio (13th District). Ms. Demsey said they constituted a "Northeast Ohio powerhouse" and we can only agree.
The theme for the day was "Democratic Women: No Limits" and we saw and what we heard at this event indicated that this was certainly so.
Our last event for Saturday was the 2nd Annual Celebration of Hope which was held at the Cleveland Music Hall near St. Clair Avenue and East 6th Street in Cleveland.
The background to this celebration goes back to late 1984 when Ms. Yvonne Pointer's 14 year-old daughter Gloria was abducted, raped and murdered. This awful incident motivated Ms. Pointer to become an outstanding activist in the fight to obtain safer communities. She has been a guiding force behind all sorts of programs including "Midnight Basketball" which offers alternatives to violence to youngsters and a support group for women who have lost children because of violence called "Positive Plus". Ms. Pointer is also involved with several projects in Ghana, West Africa.
Several years ago "A Celebration of Hope" was founded which, as the program notes read, is "an annual campaign to support the mission of the Gloria Pointer Teen Movement Foundation, with the purpose of honoring local and national unsung heroes, who are committed to saving America's children."
This evening the people who were honored were Ms. Alexandria Johnson Boone, President and CEO of GAP Communications Group; Ms. Micki Byrnes, President and General Manager of WKYC Media; Mr. Blaine Griffin, Executive Director of the Community Relations Board in Cleveland; Reverend Dr. Kevin James, founder of the New Community Bible Fellowship; Ms. Lynn Johnson (who also lost a daughter), Founder of Gathering Friends for TLC, a nonprofit organization that provides spiritual support for women; Mr. LaRese Purnell, Chief Financial Officer and COO for The Word Church; Mr. Marc A. Stefanski, Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Third Federal Savings and Loan; and, finally, there was one Ms. Margaret W. Wong, builder of Margaret W. Wong and Associates, LLC which is "a firm nationally and internationally renowned for its knowledge of immigration and nationality law."
Ms. Wong was introduced by Ms. Denise McCray, Administrator at the City of Cleveland, who called her "a leader who educates and inspires." During her brief acceptance speech, Ms. Wong said that we should be doing "a celebration of hope" on behalf of those who have immigrated to the United States in search of a better life. However, she went on to talk about how concerned she was that so many undocumented people who have committed no serious crimes are facing deportation.
In the course of the program, we were entertained by two vibrant musical numbers by the Reverend Cheryl Frazier and Ms. Sherena Wynn, both national recording artists.
Former State Legislator/Attorney General/Lt. Governor of Ohio, Mr. Lee Fisher spoke for a few minutes about how he was motivated to author Ohio's Missing Children's Law which finally passed in 1984 the same year that Gloria Pointer was killed. He reached out to Ms. Yvonne Pointer and they became friends. In fact, when he was Attorney
General he made her the first Crime Victims Outreach Specialist in the history of Ohio. Mr. Fisher offered a quote by Ernest Hemingway concerning how some people are able to use pain to make themselves strong and he believed that they really applied to Ms. Pointer. Therefore, Mr. Fisher contended that this evening's celebration should not only be about hope but should include the "resilience of the human spirit."
Ms. Pointer, herself, spoke and said that she hoped that what transpired at this event would show people that all things were possible. She encouraged us to donate money so that her projects in Ghana can continue to aid children. Ms. Wong, sitting next to us, appropriately seconded Ms. Pointer by saying, "I will give, Yvonne."
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.