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Judge-for-a-Day program gives students a chance at the gavel

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Some Utah students will have the opportunity to see what it's like behind the gavel in a courtroom through the new Judge for a Day program organized by the Utah State Courts.

The program is in recognition of Law Day on May 1, and the state court is asking high schools to conduct an essay contest that focuses on the 2006 Law Day theme "Liberty Under Law: Separate Branches: Balanced Powers."

The theme enables Law Day planners to show how the branches have separate spheres and separate powers, but work together for the common good.

Utah Court of Appeals Judge Judith Billings, chairwoman of the Utah State Court's Judicial Outreach Committee, said it is important that students understand what the founders intended and accomplished in creating a government of separate powers.

Winners of the essay contest will be paired with a judge from one of eight court districts for one day in April. The student will spend from about 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the judge.

Schools should submit the name of the student selected, along with the name of the school, student's age and contact information by March 17, to the Utah State Courts' Public Information Officer Nancy Volmer at nancyv@email.utcourts.gov.

More information on the Law Day theme is available at www.lawday.org.