TO GRASP the full meaning of the announcement yesterday of the estabishment of the Anne Blaine Harrison Institute for Public Law you had only to be sitting in a crowded courtroom presided over by Chief Judge Harold H. Greene. There, some vigorous legal wrangling produced a decision of great significance to certain students in the D.C. public school system. The scene was in the Moot Court-room of the Georgetown University Law Center, where the championship winners were determined in a mock trial featuring high school students as lawyers and witnesses - with Ballou High School defeating Coolidge. The event was part of an excellent set of special legal programs that have been conducted at Geogetown for the past six years. Thanks to the new Harrison Institute, these legal programs, which have enjoyed important foundation support in the community since the early 1970s, will acquire an extra measure of support and recognition at GU.
The late Anne Blaine Harrison was much better known throughout this community as Nancy Harrison, the marvelously outspoken and vigorous director of D.C. Citizens for Better Education. She belived that participatory democracy and home rule in the District of Columbia could be greatly strengthened through legal assistance and education for citizen groups - helping to make the law understandable and useful at the grass-roots level.
Through the New World Foundation, Mrs. Harrison worked with Prof. Jason I. Newman to generate support from other foundations, from the public school system, the city and federal govenments and GU. The result was something called the "D.C. Project," begun in 1972 under Mr. Newman's direction, which created the street-law program in 16 high schools and six correctional facilities and grew to become the model for programs and study throughout the nation.
Now, with an initial grant from the New World Foundation, fund-raising for the new Harrison Institute is under way. The institute, to be directed by Prof. Newman, will provide legal help and schooling for citizen groups as well as practical experience for law students in the field of public-interest representation.Among the programs to be expanded are legal training for the District's 36 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, assistance for a legislative research center for legal drafting and research in the District Council, and training and representation for certain consumer groups. The institute strikes us as a most fitting and significant memorial to the community spirit and accomplishments of Nancy Harrison, and we hope it enjoys strong community support.