Monday, October 19, 2015

Word from the Chair

This is an exciting time for the Courts and Community Committee. For the past two years, the committee has cosponsored a civics contest in conjunction with the annual Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference. The cosponsors were the host districts for the conferences, the Northern District of California in 2014 and the Southern District of California in 2015. Beginning next year, we plan to make the contest an annual circuit-wide event open to high school students throughout the western United States!

The 2016 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest will include essay and video competitions. The theme is "50 Years After the Miranda Decision: How Federal Courts Defined the Rights of the Accused." Rules and judging criteria will be announced in December. The contest will begin January 1, 2016, and end on April 15, 2016, with winners announced in June. Monetary prizes will be awarded for first-, second- and third-place winners.

Organizing a circuit-wide contest is an ambitious undertaking requiring a collaboration between the circuit and the district and bankruptcy courts. We anticipate that a number of districts will organize their own local contests to select finalists for the circuit-wide competition. In other districts, the circuit will conduct the preliminary judging. The goal is to have all of the districts represented among the finalists in each contest. Circuit judging panels will then select the ultimate winners.

Please look elsewhere in this website for more information about the 2015 contest. It truly was a great success thanks to the efforts of many, many people.

Over the last several years, we have noted the growing emphasis within the judicial branch of the need for better civics education. Having all of the courts in the nation’s largest circuit join together in this event will be an impressive example of the Ninth Circuit’s commitment to this cause.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Spring and Summer in the So. District of California

Despite the school year winding down, April - August were still busy with community outreach programs in the Southern District of California.  23 different programs were held in those 5 months alone! Mock trials, jobs panels, CARE presentations, Marshals' presentations, Power Lunches and courtroom observations were all offered to give students in grades 3 - college an opportunity to learn more about the third branch of government.  Additionally, 25 teachers came for a professional development event. Many judges participated, allowing us to offer the variety and volume of programs need to engage and educate the nearly 1000 students visiting the court during that time period. The new school year offers more opportunities to engage students in civics. and we look forward eagerly to sharing our love of the law with the next 1000 students heading to the court this fall!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

California Central Hosts Several Public Outreach Events

April was a busy month at the bankruptcy court in the Central District of California.  In early April, the court hosted a mock hearing and reception for the inaugural class of Loyola Law School Consumer Bankruptcy Litigation Practicum (CBLP).

From left: Daniel Pouldar, Thomas Ramirez, Alistair Gesmundo, 
Jamie Lopez, Judge Sandra R. Klein, Professor Anne Wells, 
W. Sloan Youkstetter, Christian Cooper

On April 20, 2015, after years in fairy-tale land, the infamous three bears finally got their day in court. In a mock trial orchestrated by Chief Judge Sheri Bluebond with the assistance of Judge Julia W. Brand and the Los Angeles Division staff, a group of nervously giddy fourth graders brought the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to trial. Judge Bluebond got the idea to host a mock trial from Judge Tighe, who has hosted several over the years. She realized that fourth grade would be a good age and offered the opportunity to her children’s elementary school.  
Chief Judge Sheri Bluebond with student judge Gwendolyn Smith and classmates after the mock trial of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Chief Judge Sheri Bluebond with student judge Geoffrey Smith and classmates after the mock trial of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Judge Brand is standing on the right.


Law Day Celebration

Last but not least on April 24, 2015, the court hosted a Law Day celebration for more than 90 high school students who are members of Junior State of America (JSA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for students interested in politics, government, foreign affairs, and the law. The morning events consisted of a Jobs Panel and a financial literacy presentation.  At noon, the students enjoyed Power Lunch with judges, attorneys and other professionals which ended in a lively game of Legal Jeopardy complete with candy for those who correctly answered the questions.  

Jobs Panel Participants

Answering Jeopardy questions!

Professor Laurie L. Levenson

Student Judge Julia Sandoval and District Judge John A. Kronstadt preside over mock trial

Seated left to right Bankruptcy Judge Martin R. Barash, Conrad M. Graber, Magistrate Judge Michale R. Wilner, Bankruptcy Judge Sandra R. Klein, Bankruptcy Judge Barry Russell, Bankruptcy Judge Julia W. Brand, Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne H. Segal, and Bankruptcy Clerk of Court Kathleen Campbell.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

A variety of ways to provide civics education

The first quarter of 2015 has been jam packed with opportunities for fun and education in the Southern District of California. 14 events were offered to 1040 students between January and March. These events included mock trials, courtroom observations, jobs panels, CARE presentations, marshals presentations and the 9th annual Open Doors to the Court event. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we'll just post a few photos that reflect the variety of activities students participated in.

Students from Moscow, Russia pose with District Judge Anthony Battaglia

Magistrate Judge Barbara Major gives the "Readers Oath" to elementary school students to be life long readers on Literacy Day.

Magistrate Judge William Gallo confers with his student judge as to the proper sentence for Goldilocks.

District Judge Dana Sabraw and Magistrate Judge Karen Crawford participate in a reenactment of Wards Cove Packing Co v. Antonio presented by the Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego 
District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo poses with 4th grade students who participated in a mock trial
Deputry Marshal Joanne Boyd and her partner, Ella teach students how canines find explosives.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Arizona Court and Bar Team Up for Outreach

"If I can do it, you can do it, too!" challenged Judge Mary H. Murguia as she brought to a close another successful CourtWorks program at the Sandra Day O’Connor United States Courthouse in Phoenix.

Judge Murguia, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was speaking to eighth-graders from a half-dozen Phoenix area schools who visited the courthouse as part of a program that helps students learn about constitutional principles, the judicial process and careers in the legal field. Her young audience responded with exuberant applause before streaming out into the building’s soaring atrium to have class pictures taken with the judge.

Complete Story >>

Monday, November 3, 2014

Western District of Washington Hosts Constitution Day

Consitution Day 2014 Gallery

The Federal Bar Association and the U.S. District Court hosted Constitution Day events in the Tacoma and Seattle Courthouses on September 16 and 17.  The two-hour program is designed for 5th grade classes and includes a courthouse tour, a visit by the U.S. Marshal's Service, and a mock trial conducted by the students.  District Judge Benjamin Settle hosted the event in Tacoma, while Magistrate Judge Theiler had the honors in Seattle.  For more information, contact Lori Landis at or 206-370-8483.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Civics Contest Winners Recognized at Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference

Civics Contest Essay Winners
Posing for pictures with Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski are, from left, Giovanna Mitchell, Megan Holett and Makena Ehnisz

The opening session of the 2014 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference proved to be a night to remember for three of the winners of a high school essay contest sponsored by the Courts and Community Committee and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Giovanna Mitchell of Santa Cruz took first place in the contest, which focused on the civil rights movement of the 1960s.  Makena Ehnisz and Daniel Orlov, both of Carmel, finished second and third, respectively, followed in fourth place by Megan Holett of Carmel Highlands. All of the winners received cash prizes and an invitation to the circuit conference, which was held July 14-17, 2014, in Monterey.