Sunday, March 23, 2014

Winners of the second annual county-wide William Bradford Memorial Essay Contest have been announced by its sponsors, the Florida Keys chapter of the Florida American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In the class of 2014, all from Key West High School, are Francesca Garcia in first place for her essay "Evolution of the IV Amendment," and runners-up Sherman Kaplitz for "Liberty Lost: How Technology Murdered the Fourth Amendment," and Brooklyn Patrocky for "The Influence of Technology on our Fourth Amendment Rights."

The students, with their teachers and families, were recognized at a reception on March 13 at the home of chapter Secretary Margie Randall.

The contest is held annually in memory of Bill Bradford, a founder of the chapter and founding chair of its legal committee. The essay topic each year pertains to the Constitution of the United States, most specifically to the Bill of Rights. The recent contest focused on Amendment IV, the prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure, according to contest coordinator Liz Lustberg. Essays were due by Constitution Day, Sept. 17, and all Florida Keys high school seniors were eligible for the $500 top prize. The topic of the 2014 contest will be announced in late spring or early summer.

Students were advised to consider one or several subquestions asking about any changes in society's expectations of privacy in connection with modern technology such as cell phones and Facebook. They were also "encouraged to use as examples: 1) Supreme Court cases that have upheld this amendment and 2) specific instances where this amendment has been violated," Lustberg said.

The length of the entries was required to be "approximately 1,000 words, 800 minimum and 1,200 maximum. Research was required and students were required to list at least three sources, in addition to the U.S. Constitution, used to inform their writing," she said.

Joining Lustberg as judges were chapter President Kimberly Sloan and Secretary Margie Randall.

The $500 and certificates will be presented at Awards Night at the high school in June.

For information about the local ACLU chapter, call 352-870-8809.