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!
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Friday, May 2, 2014
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 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.