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 lori_landis@wawd.uscourts.gov 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.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What's been happening in the Southern District of California

Community Outreach in the Southern District of California has been going strong all year. As the school year comes to a close, the number of programs held will also slow down. But in May and June and July, the Court hosted 13 separate events! From January- July, 2150 students have visited the court and learned about the federal judicial system. The highlight for court employees was undoubtedly the Bring a Child to Work Day events which were held on June 25, 2014 for kids 10 and over and on July 2, 2014 for kids 9 and younger. 150 children from the Court, Clerk’s Office, Probation, Pre-trial Services, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Federal Defenders and the Marshals participated in events that were designed to help them understand what their parents do on a daily basis. Many volunteers from all the participating offices were necessary to coordinate these events and make them run smoothly. As usual, mock trials were the focal point of the event, enhanced by a marshals presentation. The older kids also enjoyed the opportunity to observe court and participate in jobs "speed-dating" besides having lunch with their sponsor. Feedback from all sides indicates the days were both a success and the children really enjoyed themselves and learned a lot.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Power Lunch" proves powerful in CASD

The truth is, we stole the idea for this event from the Central District of California...and we don't even feel a little bit guilty.  In fact, the Central District was very supportive of our desire to recreate their program here in the Southern District. And it was a HUGE success. On May, 8, 2014, 50 students from a local urban high school sat down to lunch with judges, prosecutors AND defenders to talk about the federal courts. They also talked about going to college and the law in general. The highlight of the event was a speech given by retired Magistrate Judge William McCurine about growing up in Chicago during segregation. The students were riveted as Judge McCurine discussed the choices he was making and the responsive decisions his parents made that changed his life. His emphasis on a good education, acknowleding a power (any power) greater than yourself, having a good work ethic and choosing friends who "give you wings instead of being anchors" made a lasting impression on everyone in the room. An added benefit of this Bench/Bar event was the opportunity for judges, prosecutors and defense counsel to meet outside the courtroom in an effort to promote a common goal...helping kids learn and mature into their best selves!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Welcoming our Youngest Citizens

On April 11, 2014, the Southern District of California was proud to host a naturalization celebration at the new United States Courthouse Annex  for 15 children ages 6-12. The master of ceremonies, USCIS ISO Veronica Esquivel, welcomed the children, their families and our honored guests. In attendance were Congresswoman Susan A. Davis and Representatives from the offices of Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, Congressman Darrell Issa and Congressman Scott Peters. Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz and District Judge Janis L. Sammartino represented the Judges of the Southern District of California. The Old Town Academy Choir, led by Mr. Anthony Kaneaster, performed several patriotic songs for the occasion. After the children were administered the Oath of Allegiance, they received Certificates commemorating the event. Cake and punch were served to all guests as part of the celebration. It was a moving and memorable experience for everyone in attendance.


April in the Southern District of California

April has been an amazingly busy month for community outreach in the Southern District of California. We hosted 5 separate events including a SECOND Open Doors to the Court event on April 14. In total, we welcomed over 330 students, ages 8-17, to the courthouse.  Students participated in mock trials, observed court proceedings, learned about the various jobs associated with the federal courts and how to manage credit wisely. The Marshals let the younger students try on equipment and see a holding cell. And of course, Ella, their explosives detecting canine was very popular. These programs were very well received by the students, teachers and parent chaperones who visited the court to learn more about their federal judiciary.  In addition to these in-court presentations, District Judge John Houston traveled to a local high school to teach 120 students about how cases travel through the court system.

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.