By Mike Mathis
JT Briefing Editor
They walked in seeking citizenship and left bearing the rights that many who were born here take for granted.
The 52 new U.S. citizens will be able to vote and serve on a jury, among other privileges enjoyed by millions of Americans for more than 200 years.
“People all over the world hope for, aspire to become United States citizens for many good reasons,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner told the newly minted citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton on May 6.
“It’s a land of freedom, formed on the bedrock principle of freedom, where we can live upright, honest lives free from persecution even though we may hold different ideas, different views, and practice different religions, than the mainstream or than our neighbors,” the chief justice said.
“It’s a nation governed by the rule of law,” he said.
The ceremony was the cornerstone of the third annual Law Day celebration at the Justice Complex. The festivities also included a mock trial and the presentation of awards in a YouTube video contest by New Jersey Attorney General Paula T. Dow.
The day’s events were organized by the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Attorney General’s Office, the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender and the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission. The New Jersey State Bar Association also participated.
After administering the Oath of Allegiance to the new citizens, Rabner reminded them that the United States is a nation that welcomes everyone.
“Each of you has your own story, your own journey that brought you to this point,” the chief justice said. “You have different backgrounds, different cultures -- from the Middle East, from Africa, from Europe, from South America -- but today, we all share a common bond. We are Americans.”
New Jersey Public Defender Yvonne Smith Segars spoke about the legal system to approximately 50 youth from the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission. Youth also observed a K-9 demonstration and participated in a mock trial.
The YouTube Video Contest was sponsored by the young lawyers division of the bar association. The videos focused on this year’s Law Day theme, “The Legacy of John Adams: From Boston to Guantanamo.” The winning videos can be viewed at www.njsba.com/lawday/index.cfm.
Details on Law Day activities in New Jersey's 21 counties will be published in the summer edition of the Judiciary Times.