Juniors win Miranda Rights essay competition

Nicole Kim

Dani Mirell ’17 and Serena Davis ’17 won first and second place, respectively, at the district level in the 2016 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest sponsored by the Ninth Circuit Courts and Community Committee. Mirell’s essay will automatically be submitted into the Ninth Circuit Civics Contest along with winners from other districts.

Students wrote essays or created films that defined the Miranda Rights and how the justice system safeguards them. The essay contest celebrated the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona, which ruled that someone must be informed of his or her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before being taken into police custody.

The contest looked for videos and essays that summarized the court’s decision, and also discussed the additional rights established by the court as a result of the case, according to its website.

“When a friend suggested I enter the contest, I did research regarding the Miranda decision and the Fifth Amendment, and eventually my thesis even led me to learn more about Descartes and existentialism,” Davis said. “As I continued to write the essay, I noticed myself becoming much more invested, interested and excited.”

Judges and lawyers in the Central District judged the essays. Winners of the District Contest also received cash prizes: $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place.

“Regardless of winning, I got a lot out of writing the essay and developed a strong stance on what our country stands for,” Davis said. “But for me, winning felt very validating in that my ideas were being acknowledged as worthy and substantive.”

The Ninth Circuit provides each district’s winner with a trip to the Ninth Circuit Conference in Big Sky, Montana July 10–12.