November 2011 • Vol. 31 No. 10 | An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association

Dialogues on Freedom Engage High School Students in Debates about Balance of Personal Freedom versus Security

Judges and attorneys visit schools to conduct discussions.

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich joined nearly 100 judges and lawyers from the Los Angeles County Bar Association in visiting high schools throughout southern California on October 19, 2011, for the 10th annual Dialogues on Freedom, a program designed to encourage students to consider the balance of security and their personal freedom. (Trutanich is seen in photo with students from Esteban Torres High School.)

“Dialogues on Freedom is an opportunity for high school students to look beyond themselves to consider larger societal issues of security versus personal freedom,” said LACBA President Eric A. Webber. “It is our hope that this exposure to judges and lawyers through Dialogues on Freedom in the classroom will encourage some of these students to pursue a career in law. We want to demonstrate that judges and lawyers come from a wide background, some very similar to the circumstances these students now face themselves.”

The judges and attorneys leading the Dialogues on Freedom discussions used everyday situations these students face at school or in social situations as prompts to compel them to take a stand and to defend their positions on issues of personal freedom versus security for the greater good.

“Having participated in the Dialogues on Freedom program, I can attest to its value for participating students, the bench, and the bar,” said Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Lee Smalley Edmon. “For the judges and lawyers, it is incredibly rewarding to listen to and explore concepts of freedom with these young people of our community while educating them about the role of the bar and the courts. These contacts help strengthen trust and confidence in our justice system.”

There are no right or wrong answers. Rather, Dialogues on Freedom is designed to compel students to logically explore these issues in an open dialogue with their classmates who have taken an opposite position to their own.

The program was started in 2002 by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks to provide students with an opportunity to discuss the concepts of freedom, law, and justice with judges and attorneys.

High schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District that participated in this year’s program included Belmont, Chatsworth, Dorsey, Eagle Rock, Jefferson, Leadership in Entertainment and Media Arts at Lincoln, John Marshall, Felicitas & Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center, Monroe, Narbonne, North Hollywood, Humanitas Academy of Arts and Technology at Esteban Torres, Venice, West Adams Prep, and Wilson.

Non-LAUSD participating high schools included Claremont, Highland, and Montebello.

Dialogues on Freedom is a joint program of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Los Angeles Unified School District, and Los Angeles Superior Court.

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