Sandy Springs is marking Law Day on May 1 with a high-school student essay contest about the Miranda warning, a statement about Constitutional rights that police officers must read to people under arrest.

“We are excited to present the city’s inaugural Law Day essay contest, which highlights how Constitutional protections and rights are safeguarded by lawyers and the courts,” said Sandy Springs Municipal Court Judge Marcie Ernst in a press release.

The Law Day essay contest, sponsored by the Municipal Court and the Sandy Springs Bar Association, is on the theme “Miranda: More Than Words.” The theme “provides an opportunity to explore our criminal justice system and the importance of procedural fairness and equal justice under the law,” the press release says. Law Day is a May 1 celebration of the U.S. legal system.

The contest is open to all Sandy Springs high school students. It offers a $100 first-place prize, $75 for second place and $50 for third place. The winners will be recognized at the May 3 Sandy Springs City Council meeting.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Miranda v. Arizona, a U.S. Supreme Court decision that led to the familiar Miranda warning where suspects are advised, “You have the right to remain silent” and to have an attorney present. The ruling was intended to prevent illegally forced confessions.

The Miranda case began with Ernesto Miranda’s 1963 arrest in Phoenix, Ariz., on charges of rape, kidnapping and robbery. Miranda confessed to committing rape and was convicted despite his lawyer’s protest that Miranda was unaware of his rights, under the U.S. Constitution, to remain silent and to have an attorney provided. In 1966, the Supreme Court threw out Miranda’s conviction and established the requirement for police to actively inform suspects of their rights before interrogating them. Meanwhile, Miranda was retried and convicted again with other evidence. The case was highly controversial and sparked debates about balancing police power and individual rights.

Local students who want to exercise their right to not remain silent about Miranda and submit an essay must meet an April 22 deadline and follow several contest rules. For full details on the essay themes and rules, see

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.