By SHERRY DIGMON
Law Day for Escambia County high school students was back in full force last week after being cancelled in 2020 and held with limited attendance last year.
Thursday, May 5, students from Atmore Christian School, Escambia Academy, Escambia County High School and Homeschool Kids & Company attended. Friday May 6, students from Cornerstone, Flomaton High School, W.S. Neal High School, and T.R. Miller High School attended.
Attorney Charles Godwin has coordinated the program for its 30-plus years of existence, however, he could not be at either session last week. One of his sons, attorney Tim Godwin, served in his stead.
As students filed in the courtroom, they were given voter registration applications by Escambia County Commission Chairman Raymond Wiggins. The right to vote is one of the two matters important to Law Day. The other is the right to a trial by jury. As Tim Godwin reminded students this was a real case they would hear – not a mock trial.
Judge Bradley Byrne spoke briefly on the drug crisis. He has been a drug court judge for the last 20 years. He talked about the people who stand before him in court and the “look of regret” on their faces – regret at the time squandered chasing chemicals.
“You are the author of your life story,” Byrne told students.
Godwin introduced the guest speaker, Aaron Watson, personal injury lawyer.
“When I was your age, I dreamed about being a lawyer,” Watson said to the students. Now he owns a law firm in Pensacola and has 30 lawyers working for him.
When he told a high school teacher he wanted to go beyond high school, he was told, “You don’t have the grades.”
He told his dad he wanted to go to law school, and his dad told him they didn’t have the money for that.
But Watson was determined and he persevered. He noted just one generation back, his folks were sharecroppers in Mississippi.
“My motivation was to look at somebody else and know I can do that too,” he said. But, he warned the students, be careful who you look at.
“You might have a friend making easy money. They fly too high – but they’re walking low.”
It was the walking low he warned against – walking among the people and circumstances that would keep them from being successful and achieving their dreams. There are pitfalls when you’re walking low.
“Being a lawyer doesn’t come easy,” Watson said. “Opening a business doesn’t come easy … Your gift is what you do better than anybody else. What is it that you do? You have to find a way to operate within your gift …
” Don’t walk low. Fly high. Try to motivate and inspire. I was you. I am you. You are the product of your decisions. I am an eagle.”
Jurors and alternates were Julie Conway, Emma Hall, Brady Howell, Tomorrion Knight, Chris Long, Hunter Smith, Lillie Lanham, Carly Boutwell, Malayzia Crenshaw, Janisha Hines, Madison Bouler, Raquel Knight, Rachel Redmond, Bryson Williams.
The jury heard the Trial of the State of Alabama vs. William Robbins, charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Prosecuting attorneys were Steve Billy, D.A., and Melissa Gross, Assistant D.A. Karean Reynolds was attorney for the defendant.
The case resulted in a hung jury – seven guilty, five not guilty.