Cranbrook students win annual Law Day contest

A group of 19 talented seventh graders from Cranbrook Kingswood Middle School in Bloomfield Hills and a fourth grader have won a $1,000 grand prize award in the State Bar of Michigan’s third annual Law Day Contest.

Second place in the contest, and a $750 prize, goes to Carolyn Gracey.

The grand prize winners, led by attorney advisors Gerard Mantese, Theresamarie Mantese and Gregory Nowakowski, wrote, acted in and submitted a 48-minute video based on a 1971 case, United States v. Sinclair, in which U.S. District Court Judge Damon Keith upheld the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, protecting citizens from illegal searches and seizures.

The case was the subject of a 1991 State Bar Michigan Legal Milestone.

The Cranbrook Kingswood Middle School will receive a $1,000 grand prize award to put toward law-related education efforts.

Student winners include Sofia Adams, Mahshad Afshar, Yasmeen Amjad, Srujana Annavarapu, Kalah Brown, Rhea Dhar, Zehra Husaini, Swathi Karthik, Isabel Mantese, Simrin Nagaraju, Jeevin Neelam, Claire Pearce, David Qin, Helen Qin, Elizabeth Reese, Roberto Riesgo, Lena Roberts, Dylan Schwartz, Natalie Wilcox and Dina Zreik.

Their video captured events leading up to Keith’s historic decision, including  the fact that the U. S. Department of Justice, without first obtaining judicial approval, wiretapped conversations involving a suspect in the bombing of a CIA office in Ann Arbor.

When challenged, the Justice Department argued that domestic national security concerns required the executive branch of the federal government, through the attorney general, to order such wiretaps without prior judicial approval.

Keith rejected that argument, citing the Fourth Amendment protection of “a defendant from the evil of the uninvited ear.”

Referring to the attorney general's assertion of a power to decide where, when, and whom to wiretap, Keith wrote that, “such power held by one individual was never contemplated by the framers of our Constitution and cannot be tolerated today.”

The U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the case, with Detroit lawyer William T. Gossett defending Keith's decision on a pro bono basis, and affirmed Keith's decision.

The second-place winning group created a Prezi about voting rights that cites two Michigan Legal Milestones, the sixth milestone commemorating Sojourner Truth and the 11th milestone commemorating Eva Belles’ Vote.