Participation In Democracy Essay Contest

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What do an exploding car, Taylor Swift’s assailant and a killer building material all have in common?  Wrongdoers were brought to justice with tort law and trial by jury!  

The American Museum of Tort Law is excited to announce our Tort Law and Democracy Essay Contest.  We invite all students grades 9 -12 to participate.   A prestigious panel of experts – many of them law professors – will judge the entries.  

As a result of jury verdicts, and the work of trial lawyers representing specific victims, the country as a whole is safer and more aware:  Products have been improved, or removed from the market; civil rights have been protected and defended; and the environment is cleaner.  These two - tort law, and trial by jury - are more important than ever in protecting our citizens from corporate wrongdoing and governmental overreach. 

The American Museum of Tort Law, founded by Ralph Nader, is the only Museum of its type in the world.  It celebrates the importance of tort law as a way to empower people to right wrongs; and the importance, too, of trial by jury.  Tort law – the law of wrongful injuries – is truly law of the people, by the people, and for the people.  It is the law that protects (or compensates) people from injury or death caused by negligence, reckless or intentional wrongdoing.  It protects people from corporate wrongdoing, from dangerous and defective products, toxic environmental disasters, unsafe medicines and foods, and a host of other dangers. Juries serve as the conscience and voice of the community, and exemplify the power of citizen involvement in our government.

The Topic: “How Tort Law and Civil Trial by Jury Protect All Americans”

Who is eligible: All high school students, grades 9 through 12, in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

First Prize:$1000, and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Museum in Winsted Connecticut for the presentation of the award by Executive Director Rick Newman, and noted consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

Five runners-up: $500 each, and a book signed by Ralph Nader.

Fifty best remaining essays will receive Certificates of Honorable Mention.

Registration: The cost to enter is $15 (may be waived – see Rules), and all contestants will receive a large facsimile of the Declaration of Independence*, the document that started our country.

The Essay: 750 to 1500 words, not including citations and bibliography

Deadline: All submissions must be emailed by May 1st, 2018

Questions? Email us at [email protected] 

The Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen student entry deadline is October 31 (annually), the Post judging deadline is usually November 15, the District Voice of Democracy/Patriot's Pen judgings are usually held between November 16 and December 15, and the Department (state) Voice of Democracy/Patriot's Pen judgings are usually held between December 16 and January 10. It varies (at each level of competition and from state to state) on when the judgings are held, and how the participants and winners are notified. All deadlines (except for the student entry deadline being Oct 31 at the earliest) are suggested by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Headquarters Programs office, therefore there may be some slight flexibility in the actual deadlines set by each Post, District and Department (state.)

The best place to get information on results would be the local VFW Post contact person or chairman that the entry or entries were turned in to. We do not receive any results on Post, District or Department contests here at the VFW National Headquarters Programs Office; we receive only the first place Department (state) winner's name from the Department by mid January (and again, those state winner notification dates and procedures vary from state-to-state.) The National Voice of Democracy winners are all announced in Washington, DC at the Parade of Winners (held in late February or early March) - those winners will be posted online here soon after. The Patriot's Pen national winners are announced around the same time online (only the first place national Patriot's Pen winner -with one parent- will receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC to be honored at the Parade of Winners.)

You can also contact your VFW Department (state) headquarters office to see if they can offer any information or assistance.  You can visit this link and look to the bottom of that webpage for “VFW State Contacts” to get your VFW state office’s phone number and e-mail.

If you still need assistance or have questions, please contact VFW Programs, youthscholarships@vfw.org 816-968-1155 from Monday-Friday 8:15 am to 4:30 pm central time.  

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