Thursday, March 27, 2014

March in the Southern District of California

The Southern District of California hosted 4 separate events in March, welcoming over 400 students to the court.  On March 7 and March 12, 2014,  75 third grade students participated in the mock trial of Goldilocks. Magistrate Judge David Bartick, Magistrate Judge Mitchell Dembin and Bankruptcy Judge Chris Latham presided as these youngsters took on all the roles assisted by court staff and attorneys. After the mock trials, the U.S. Marshals showed the children holding cells and let them try on official Marshals gear.  The also learned about how explosives-sniffing canines do their job and had the opportunity to pet our own amazing doggie deputy

 On March 19, 2014, 315 high school seniors had the opportunity to participate in Open Doors to the Federal Court.  The program, which ran on 3 tracks, introduced these young adults to careers associated with the courts, gave them an understanding of how to use credit wisely and allowed them to participate in a mock trial about a teenager accused of trying to import marijuana across the border.  This scenario is one that is often seen in CASDs courtrooms and the realistic nature of the charges will hopefully help the students make better choices in their own futures.  10 of CASDs judges participated in this incredible educational event. It could not have been offered without the support of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Federal Defenders, Probation, Pretrial Services and the U.S. Marshals. By working together, we were able to offer these students an opportunity they could not have gotten anywhere else.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February in the Southern District of California

The Southern District of California has been very busy in the Community Outreach Department in February. Besides Judge Miller's and Judge Major's presentations which were previously reported, CASD judges presented on 3 other occasions. 

On February 21, 2014, Magistrate Judge William Gallo presided over a mock trial of 2 students accused of selling fireworks at the District Court.  4th grade students from a local elementary school took on all the roles. The prosecutors were assisted by AUSA Jill Burkhardt and defense counsel were assisted by Sandra Hourani of Federal Defenders of San Diego.  After finding the 2 defendants guilty, the students learned about the U.S. Marshals service and got to meet our bomb sniffing canine and her handler, Deputy Marshal Joanne Boyd. The students, teacher and parent chaperones were very impressed with the presentation indicating that it exceeded their expectations.  The teacher thanked the courts for  "supporting civics education in public schools, especially at the elementary level."

On February 25, 2014, District Judge John Houston traveled to a local middle school and talked to 100 eighth grade students about the federal courts and how a case travels through the court system to the U.S. Supreme Court.  These students had recently studied the U.S. Constitution and had the opportunity to ask Judge Houston general questions about the courts, as well as questions about specific cases over which he had presided. 

Then, on February 26, 2014, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Margaret Mann visited a local high school to talk about her career and the path she took to become a bankruptcy judge. A panel of students asked Judge Mann questions about the bankruptcy process and Judge Mann explained the risks and benefits of  taking out student loans to pay for college.  The students and Judge Mann discussed the various types of bankruptcy filings and statistics on the most prevalent issues being litigated in US Bankrutcy Courts.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Taking the Courtroom to the Classroom

On February 10, 2014, United States Magistrate Judge Barbara Major of the U.S. District for the Southern District of California visited a 4th grade classroom in San Diego. She presided over the mock trial of the People of the Forest v. Goldilocks. Students took on all the speaking roles, including that of judge, and also served as jurors. The students debated whether an invitation from Mama Bear to "Come back any time" included entering the property when no one was home. They discussed with whom the responsibility for breaking a chair lies if the chair is in a weakened condition, and they also discussed whether it is appropriate to eat someone else's breakfast if no one else appears to be eating it.  These youngsters impressed Judge Major with their reading ability and the way they grasped the issues presented. At the end of the event, they had the opportunity to try on Judge Major's robe and received gavel pencils as a reminder of their day "in court."

Friday, February 7, 2014

Judge Miller Hosts AP Government Students

On February 6, 2014, Senior District Judge Jeffrey Miller of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California gave 45 high school seniors a unique opportunity to get a glimpse inside a federal courtroom. The Advanced Placement Government students observed court proceedings for an hour and a half during which they watched the sentencing of a 19 year old caught importing methamphetamine, as well as several other defendants who committed border crimes.  Additionally, two women were brought before the court for revocation of supervised release charges.  The students gave their rapt attention as they witnessed defendants and others appear before the judge. Following a short break, a panel comprised of representatives from the U.S. Marshals, DEA, FBI, the Metropolitan Correction Center, U.S. Probation Office, the Office of the U.S. Attorney, the Office of the Federal Public Defender, and the Office of the Clerk all spoke to the students about their unique and important roles in the criminal justice and court system. They explained the educational  requirements for their jobs and discussed why they love their work. The students had an opportunity to ask questions of all the panel members including Judge Miller and came away with a greater appreciation for what it takes to be a federal law enforcement officer and district court employee.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Inside the District Court with Magistrate Judge Barbara Major

On January 29, 2014, United States Magistrate Judge Barbara Major was interviewed by San Diego High School teacher Patrick Goddard before a live audience of 100 high school law students. Judge Major discussed her personal background, law school, life as a private attorney and as an assistant U.S. attorney, and of course,  serving as a magistrate judge. Students had an opportunity to ask their own questions of Judge Major and seemed to really enjoy this chance to get a glimpse into the life of a magistrate judge.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Central District of California Bankruptcy Court Hosts Another Successful Federal Court Power Lunch

On December 13, 2013, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California hosted a Federal Court Power Lunch for Whitney High School.  A Power Lunch is a program for high school students who come to the courthouse to meet judges and lawyers, and to learn about the law and the legal profession.  Circuit Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Bankruptcy Judge Sandra R. Klein, Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne H, Segal, Magistrate Judges Alka Sagar and Michael C. Wilner, and Judge Holly Fujie of the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, participated in the event.  Additionally, Bankruptcy Clerk of Court and Executive Officer Kathy Campbell, including members of her staff attended and helped make the event a huge success.

Approximately 50 students and staff from Whitney High School attended the Power Lunch.  United States Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr.; David Madden, assistant circuit executive for public information, Ninth Circuit Office of the Circuit Executive; and Julie Pollock, a UCLA fellow, also participated in the event.  Several volunteer attorneys including assistant U.S. attorneys, deputy federal public defenders, and an attorney from the Bureau of Prisons took part in the event.  Judge Klein’s law clerks, Stephanie Rettier and Razmig Izakelian, also spoke with the students and participated in the lunch.
Judge Klein introduced each of the judges and spoke briefly about her background and the importance of mentoring in her career.  Judge Nguyen kicked off the event and discussed her background, dreaming big, and never letting obstacles get in her way.  Judge Segal explained what magistrate judges do and what led her to a career in the law.  Judge Sagar, who was the guest speaker, provided information about her family, her background and the definitive moments in her career, including her recent appointment to the bench.  All of the speakers emphasized the importance of perseverance and never giving up your dreams.    

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Inside the Courtroom with District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller

On December 4, 2013, United States District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller visited San Diego High School and spoke with approximately 100 students about his career and the federal courts.  Business law teacher Patrick Goddard interviewed Judge Miller in the style of James Lipton on the T.V. Series "Inside the Actors Studio," providing an opportunity for students to get a real sense of what it takes to become a federal judge and what the job is like on a day-to-day basis.  Judge Miller entertained students with stories of his career and helped them to better understand how our system of justice works.  He discussed the process of federal judicial appointments in the U.S., how cases travel through the federal courts and issues that the courts are likely to grapple with over the next few years.  Students had an opportunity to ask Judge Miller their own questions on cases he has handled and challenges he has faced.