The Missouri Bar Law Day Essay Contest 2015

Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Missouri Court Plan
Fabulous Prizes!

The Missouri Non Partisan Court PlanFor Law Day, May 1, 2015, The Missouri Bar Citizenship Education Program is sponsoring an essay contest for Missouri school students in grades 6-12. The theme for Law Day 2015 is “Fair and Impartial Courts,” commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan, commonly called the Missouri Plan. ESSAYS ARE DUE BY APRIL 15, 2015.

The Missouri Plan has served as a national model for the selection of judges and has been adopted in more than 30 states. The merit-based system, adopted by Missouri voters in 1940, helps ensure a fair and impartial justice system by keeping politics and money out of our courts. All Missouri judges are subject to voter approval by election each new term, though their initial selection varies. The Missouri Plan governs selection and retention of judges on the Supreme Court of Missouri, the Missouri Court of Appeals, the City of St. Louis and Clay, Greene, Jackson, Platte and St. Louis counties. In all other circuits, judges run for their seat on the bench in partisan elections, which work well in communities where voters know the candidates and little money is needed to run campaigns.

Related links:

Judges are Like Umpires or Referees

For the essay contest, students should explain how the role of judges in the courtroom can be compared to the role of umpires or referees at a ballgame and how the Missouri Plan for the selection of judges promotes this role. When we play sports, we want the umpire or the referee to come to the game without favoring one side over the other, just like we want the judge to only consider the facts and the rule of law in any cases before the court. As U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts remarked during his nomination hearings, “Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.”

Teaching Resources

Lesson plans on the Missouri Plan and on Judges as Umpires of the Law may be found at http://missourilawyershelp.org/lesson-plans/.

Essay Contest Rules

  1. There will be two divisions:  Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12.
  2. The essays should be no longer than 1,000 words and should be typed and double-spaced.
  3. The essays are due by  April 15, 2015.
  4. The essays will be judged according the scoring rubric below.
  5. The winning essayist and an accompanying chaperone (teacher, parent, etc.) will attend either a Kansas City Royals or St. Louis Cardinals ballgame on Law Day—May 1, 2015. There will be a total of 12 winners:
  • Three from both categories on the eastern side of the state. The boundaries are the Eastern District Court of Appeals and the eastern half of the Southern District Court of Appeals.   These winners will go to Busch Stadium in St. Louis for the Cardinals’ game.
  • Three from both categories on the western side of the state.  The boundaries are the Western District Court of Appeals and the western half of the Southern District Court of Appeals.   These winners will go to Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City for the Royals’ game.
  1. The scoring rubric is at the end of this e-mail.

Essays may be sent electronically to Millie Aulbur at milliea@mobar.org or mailed to Millie Aulbur, P.O. Box 119, Jefferson City, MO.

 

SCORING RUBRIC FOR LAW DAY ESSAY CONTEST

Explains how the Missouri Plan Works. (30 points.)

25-30 points

Explanation is comprehensive and examples are used to illustrate the elements of the plan.

18-24 points

Explanation is adequate with some examples.

10-17 points

Explanation is fair and no examples.

0-9 points

No or poor explanation and no examples.

Discusses how the Missouri Plan contributes to fair and impartial courts. (30 points) 25-30 points

Explanation is comprehensive and has a compelling discussion of how the Missouri Plan effectively contributes to fair and impartial courts.

18-24 points

Explanation is adequate and has an adequate discussion of how the Missouri Plan effectively contributes to fair and impartial courts.

10-17 points

Explanation is fair  and has some discussion of how the Missouri Plan effectively contributes to fair and impartial courts.

0-9 points

No explanation or poor discussion of the effectiveness of the Missouri Plan.

Compares the role of judges to the role of baseball umpires or sports’ referees. (30 points) 25-30 points

Compares at least three ways in which judges are similar to baseball umpires or referees.

18-24 points

Compares at least two ways in which judges are similar to baseball umpires or referees.

10-17 points

Compares at least one way judges are similar to baseball umpires or referees.

0-9 points

No comparison made or the comparison does not make sense.

Exhibits good writing skills—usage, punctuation, etc. 9-10 points

Excellent usage, grammar, punctuation and paragraphing. No errors.

6-8 points

Proficient usage, grammar, punctuation and paragraphing. No more than 3 errors.

3-5 points

Acceptable usage grammar, punctuation and paragraphing. No more than 5 errors

0-3 points

Inadequategrammar, punctuation and paragraphing. Multiple errors.

 

Questions should be directed to Millie Aulbur, Director of Citizenship Education for The Missouri Bar, at milliea@mobar.org.

Leave a Reply

Back to Top