Court was in session Friday afternoon at the Lycoming County Courthouse for students, their teachers and parents to celebrate Law Day.
Law Day was designated by Congress in 1961 as a day to celebrate the nation's commitment to the rule of law, according to the American Bar Association.
Locally, the event is sponsored by the Lycoming County Law Association and the Lycoming County Paralegal Association. Area school students were invited to submit essays and artwork to be judged for awards from the organizations.
Winners presented their essays in President Judge Nancy L. Butts' courtroom.
"It's really all about the kids," explained Jessica A. Engel, executive director of the law association.
Guests heard from the "Law Day Singers" who presented the National Anthem before presentations were made. The quartet consisted of Craig Harris, Benjamin Landon, Glenn Spoerke and Bob Schweppenheiser.
J. Michael Wiley, law association board president, introduced Judge Kenneth D. Brown, former Lycoming County president judge and now serving as senior judge for surrounding counties, as guest speaker.
Brown relayed the story of German judge Lothar Kreyssig who defied the Nazis during World War II and refused to sign death orders - or mercy killings, as the Nazis called them - for thousands of mentally retarded and disabled citizens.
Kreyssig refused to join the Nazi party on grounds of judicial independence and even issued a murder charge against a senior Nazi party official for the killings.
The judge's nonconformism cost him his job and he was forced to retire.
"He's pretty much an unsung hero," Brown said. "I think this is a good day to remember the bravery of Judge Kreyssig."
This year marked the first time the associations presented an award for the Lycoming County mock trial competition winner, which went to a team from Jersey Shore High School.
Winners from the competition include:
Adrienne Bardo (best advocate and best witness);
Megan Brookens (best witness);
Alex Eckard (best witness);
Emily Packer (best advocate and best witness);
Ryan Palski (best advocate and best witness);
Teacher advisers for the team were Tim Greene and Jim Smith. Julieanne Steinbacher served as the team's attorney advisor.
Winners of the essay and art contest were:
Brady Chesebro, essay, first grade, Lyter Elementary;
Grace Baylor, essay, second grade, Donald E. Schick Elementary;
Joey Watkins, essay, third grade, Lyter Elementary;
Grace Boos, essay, third grade, Donald E. Schick Elementary;
Halie Marriot, art, second grade, Lyter Elementary;
Connor Gross, essay, fourth grade, Donald E. Schick Elementary;
Morgan Marty, essay, sixth grade, Curtin Middle School;
Juliet Jacques, essay, sixth grade, Curtin Middle School;
Samia Campbell, art, seventh grade, Curtin Middle School;
Elly Sherman, essay, seventh grade, East Lycoming School District.