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Boucher Leads Students on Stand Up for Your Rights Team

Published: 12/21/2012

Nine middle school students from Edward W. Brooke Charter School in Boston became defenders of the U.S. Constitution this fall with the help of Saul Ewing Associate Gregory M. Boucher.

Boucher, who works in the firm’s Boston office, spent two months teaching the students from the school’s Roslindale campus how protections under the Constitution’s First Amendment apply in public schools through the Stand Up for Your Rights program.

Stand Up for Your Rights isn’t just a series of lectures. Lessons revolve around a mock legal case and culminate with the students presenting oral arguments before Massachusetts Appeals Court judges at the Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston.

“The program teaches the students to think critically about how the law applies to their lives and put what they learn into action,” Boucher said. “By playing the role of appellate attorneys, they gain insight into the challenges of balancing their rights as individuals and the safety of their school and community.”

The Brooke Charter team’s mock case involved a high school student, Isaac Jones, who successfully sued the Hartwell School District for violating his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The alleged violation occurred when the Hartwell High School principal suspended Jones and banned him from wearing a T-shirt with controversial imagery. The shirt had a bull’s eye and the name of a famous rapper on the front and the words “Fight the Power” on the back. The school district appealed the verdict for Jones, and that’s where the students’ work on the mock appeal began.

Boucher served as leader for a group of three attorneys who worked together to help the students become advocates for each side in the case. The attorneys taught the students how to use precedent, apply the law to the facts of the case, and craft legal arguments. They also trained the students to work together as a team and prepared them to answer spontaneous questions from the judges.

“The students showed great confidence in making their arguments before the judges. It was gratifying to watch them embrace their roles as legal advocates, and they truly shined in the courtroom,” Boucher said.

Stand Up for Your Rights is one of many programs run by Discovering Justice, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that educates students, especially in underserved communities, about the legal system.