Skip to main content
Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI to host 20th Annual Law Day 2004: Win Equity by Law

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

Hundreds of teens to tackle top legal issues at
URI's Feinstein Providence Campus, May 11

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- May 5, 2004 -- Will legislation put an end to 'racial profiling'? Are recent actions of R.I. political leaders lending truth to the state moniker 'Rogues Island'? Is there any privacy on the web?

As these hot issues are being addressed in courthouses in Rhode Island and nationwide, next week more than 200 high school students will tackle the questions at the 20th Annual Law Day at the University of Rhode Island's Feinstein Providence Campus. Their "teachers" for the day will be more than 25 leading public officials, justices, attorneys, and media representatives who are directly involved in issues surrounding equity and the law.

Law Day 2004, focused on "Win Equity by Law," will be held on Tuesday, May 11, from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. URI's Urban Field Center, located at the Providence Campus, and the Rhode Island Bar Association (RIBA) sponsor the annual event.

To begin the day, Marcia Feld, executive director of the Urban Field Center; M. Beverly Swan, URI provost; John McCray, vice provost of the Feinstein College of Continuing Education; and John M. Roney, president of RIBA will offer welcome remarks. Awards will be presented to program founders, RI District Court Chief Justice Albert DeRobbio and Senator Mary Parella, (R-Bristol), in recognition of their efforts and the program's 20-year anniversary. Feld, DeRobbio and Parella founded the program to increase youth awareness about the legal system and its impact on society.

Following the keynote address by R.I. Attorney General Patrick Lynch, students will attend their choice of two workshops on various timely law-related topics. All of the workshops will run twice, once from 10 to 10:45 a.m. and then from 11 to 11:45 a.m. After the second workshop, a wrap-up session and lunch will be held in the Paff Auditorium, located on the first floor of the campus. This session allows students to raise questions and talk with the lawyers and community leaders who have spoken at the various workshops.

The URI Urban Field Center's law-related education project and the RIBA support the Law Day program to promote knowledge and awareness of the law within the Rhode Island Urban Community. Over the past 20 years, thousands of students and their teachers have participated in the annual event in Providence. This year, staff of the Urban Schools Partnership recruited about 20 teachers from high schools to participate in the program.

The workshops to be presented next week are:
o Big Brother Is Watching -- Racial Profiling in Rhode Island: Leonard Lopes, chief of staff, RI Office of Attorney General. Recent studies have uncovered the truth that some law enforcement officials have characterized as an unfounded perception: racial profiling is alive and prospering in Rhode Island. Two members of the R.I. House of Representatives have proposed a bill, "The End of Racial Profiling Act 2004," aimed at eliminating this practice by R.I. police. The legislation, proposes monitoring police to determine if they disproportionately stop and search cars driven by people of ethnic races and to allow lawsuits against offending police departments. This workshop explores the issues involved and the proposed legislation.

o Ethics and Rhode Island Government -- Bradford Gorham, RI Probate Judge; Kent Willever, director, RI Ethics Commission. The big names are Ex-Providence Mayor Cianci and Ex-Rhode Island Governor DiPrete, but the list of politicians under investigation for ethical, and potentially illegal violations continues today. Most recently, the R.I. General Assembly has been shaken by charges that three key members might have significant conflicts of interest involving their public positions and their private business interests. Is this a trend that is only happening in Rhode Island? Why, after such public scandals in the past, is this trend continuing today? What should we be doing differently? Is it now necessary to draft legislation to monitor the behavior of our lawmakers?

o Crime and Punishment: Patrick Youngs, white collar crime unit chief, RI Office of Attorney General. Fear of convicted killer Craig Price has resulted in unprecedented attempts to manipulate the legal system to keep him behind bars. Although the laws have changed to incarcerate violent juvenile offenders, the changes could not be applied retroactively to Price's sentence for murder. Originally eligible for release at age 21, additional charges, based on his actions in the prison including assaults on prison guards, have been filed to prevent his release. Now at age 30, with years added to his initial murder sentence, Price is looking at a release date in 2022. His many appeals have been denied. This workshop will use the Price case as basis for exploring and discussing the many issues prisoners face including their civil rights as incarcerated individuals and the issue of parole.

o How Private is Private -- The Internet and Privacy Issues: Harold Feld, associate director, Media Access Project, Washington, D.C. In this era of Internet busybodies, cyber stalkers and Google searches, we are seeing the public's right to information colliding with individual's rights to privacy. Must we consider that everything we sign, write, buy, or money we borrow is now information the public can view? Do we need to worry that people can access information about our marital status and gain other information from state archives and Web sites? It appears that anything that is put on the Internet is fair game. Information published on the Web may be searched electronically, correlated with information form other sources, and downloaded into private databases. This workshop explores what is being done to address the situation and what you can do.

o Media And The Law: Jim Taricani, NBC Channel 10; Tracy Breton, Providence Journal. How important is it for a news reporter to protect the identity of his or her sources for news stories? If the information provided by a source could lead to solving a crime, should the reporter reveal the source's identity to the authorities? What happens to the accuracy of the news if sources do not feel safe when they are talking to reporters? When does investigative journalism cross the line into police work?