Law Day celebrates
our justice system
Today, May 1, is Law Day, which marks our commitment to the rule of law.
Law Day was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The American Bar Association has set this year's theme as "No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom."
Our courts serve as our center for dispute resolution and the pursuit of justice. We have various types of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration. But, for most of us, the primary arena for dispute resolution remains our court system.
Unfortunately, our courthouses have become understaffed, and there are an unacceptable number of judicial vacancies statewide. While Gov. Chris Christie and the Legislature point fingers at each other, the end result is that many citizens are being denied timely access to the courts. Essex County was recently forced to suspend complex civil and all matrimonial trials due to a shortage of judges.
The governor and the Legislature must take steps to fill these vacancies. William Gladstone said, "Justice delayed is Justice denied."
All of us, whatever our professions, should spend some time today reflecting on and celebrating the system of law that provides for an orderly society.
MICHAEL A. GILL
Michael Gill is past president of the Atlantic County Bar Association.
Federal pressure spurs
Regarding the April 24 Associated Press story, "Colleges find new rules for handling rape cases a legal minefield":
The story got my words right, but the context wrong. It correctly quoted my observation that in college disciplinary proceedings, "Innocent people get found guilty of harassment because the school realizes the only way it can avoid liability is to punish everybody in sight." But it wrongly claimed I said schools did that because they feared "Title IX lawsuits."
In reality, it is government pressure - not just lawsuits - that leads to convictions of innocent students. If a school gives an accused student due process, it will probably win a lawsuit brought by the complaining student. But it can still be investigated and threatened with the loss of federal funds by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work. OCR has a much broader notion of sexual harassment than the federal courts. It routinely holds schools liable for Title IX violations for responding to sexual harassment complaints in ways that federal judges consider perfectly reasonable. It is OCR's pressure, not just Title IX lawsuits, that makes fearful school officials convict even innocent students of harassment.
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Speaking of religions,
what of libertarianism?
Regarding Robert H. Nelson's April 20 column, "Environmentalism is now a religion":
By the professor's own logic, almost any strongly held belief that has to do with human nature and the social good would qualify as a religion.
Nelson's own libertarianism fits the bill. The professor is a libertarian evangelist who believes that the free market will save us all from the economic sins of government and environmentalism.
Closing charter school
won't help Pleasantville
In March, the state decided to close PleasanTech Academy Charter School in Pleasantville.
As we all know, Pleasantville is a low-income community where a school that holds to high standards is needed to help our children obtain a better education. Giving children a good education is the way to help them have a better future and move up from poverty.
I understand that there are standards schools have to meet, but I believe that closing the charter school will not help our community. Instead, it creates a bigger problem because the academic level in Pleasantville's public schools is very low. Adding more children to those schools will not help. If the state really wants to help us and our children, it will take into consideration other solutions.
They are not just eliminating a school from our community, they are also eliminating a source of income for all the teachers who work there.
My child has been in PleasanTech Academy for the past three years, and, as a parent, I can say my experience has been great. For me, PleasanTech was and is a better choice for the education of my children. I am willing to help in any way to keep the school open for the good of our children and community. It is not fair that our children not only have to live in poverty, but also receive a poor education that hinders them for the rest of their lives.