State Court Programs
The Alaska Court System hosts annual Color of Justice programs that ‘brings diverse youth from across the state together for exciting workshops and activities designed to introduce them to the study of law and encourage them to consider legal and judicial careers.”
Arizona - “Courts Are US”
The Arizona Superior Court offers “Courts Are Us,” a youth employment program, was started as a means to educate young people in the community about courts and the legal system.
The Arkansas Judiciary offers a program called Appeals on Wheels which ‘is a Supreme Court outreach program designed to educate students about their state government. Twice each year, the Court travels the state to hold oral argument outside Little Rock. Local students from middle school through college are invited to attend oral argument and are well prepared to watch the proceedings, having previously received facts about the case to be argued. Justices meet with students afterward to answer questions about oral arguments, the roles and responsibilities of judges, and how the courts work.”
Power of Democracy is a California organization funded by the California Bar Foundation. Power of Democracy aims to give youth the “knowledge, tools and opportunity to fully appreciate, understand and protect democracy”. They provide effective K-12 Civic Learning programs and have created a list of core activities that they deem “The Six Proven Practices” shown to improve the quality and effectiveness of civic learning in and out of the classroom. Their work is highly regarded.
California – Marion County Superior Court
The Marion County Superior Court of California has formed a Community Outreach program. Organizations and groups interested in having a judicial officer or court administrator speak at a function or gathering may contact Court Administration with their requests. Judicial officers and court administrators are available to speak on the following topics: The Importance of Judicial Impartiality; The Constitutional Role of the Judicial Branch; Public Access to the Court; Legal Assistance for Self Represented Litigant; Therapeutic and Restorative Justice Courts in Marin; Community Justice Planning; and other topics to be determined by mutual consent of the Court and requester.
California – Orange County Superior Court Leadership Academy
Each year since 2007, the Orange County Superior Court has held a six-session Leadership Academy for 20 to 30 community leaders with the goal of providing information about court programs and services and the judicial officers’ impartial role in hearing cases. Participants are encouraged to share their knowledge with constituents, clients, and/or community members; the Court has solicited input from graduates to improve services to the community. Each session is led by one of three judicial co-chairs with presentations by judicial officers and managers. Staff support is provided by the Court’s Public Information Office.
California – San Francisco The Day in Court Program
The County of San Francisco Superior Court of California also, in an effort to inform lawmakers about the significant impacts state budget cuts have inflicted on the court, invited state lawmakers to visit the Court. Furthermore, in cooperation with the San Francisco Superior Court, The Day in Court Program, under the direction of the Barristers' Club of San Francisco, takes students from the classroom to the courtroom, allowing them to witness first-hand the trial of civil cases. As part of the visit, students are provided a book based on real questions Judges have received from students during visits to the San Francisco Superior Court. The book, What's Your Weirdest Case? Judges Answer Questions on the Courts, is a valuable resource for students, teachers or anyone seeking answers to the most commonly-asked questions about the courts and serving as a Judge.
Through the California Courts, Solano Superior Court offers to bring real DUI trials into local high schools through a participatory presentation.
Through California Courts, Mono Superior Court, in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, puts on a Hispanic Community Forum every six months for the county’s Spanish-speaking population.
Colorado - Courts in the Community
Courts in the Community is the Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals' educational outreach program, which started on Law Day in 1986. It gives high school students hands-on experience in how the Colorado judicial system operates and illustrates how disputes are resolved in a democratic society. The Courts travel to high schools in Colorado to hear two oral arguments at each location. These are not mock proceedings; they are oral arguments in actual cases from which rulings are determined. Each Court issues its opinions anywhere from a few weeks to months after hearing the arguments.
Colorado - Aurora Teen Court
The Aurora Teen Court is an educational diversion program that operates in the Aurora Municipal Court in Aurora, Colorado. The program provides an alternative response for the juvenile justice system for first-time, misdemeanor juvenile offenders, in which teens determine the appropriate sanctions for the offender. Teen Court allows youth in middle and high school after admitting guilt to have a “sentencing hearing” with students acting as prosecutor, defense attorney and jurors. An adult judge presides, and a jury of peers determines the sentence.
Located in Denver, Colorado the Colorado Judicial Learning Center “is a 4,000 square foot museum style space that is full of interactive, fun, and informative exhibits. Walk in visitors are always welcome. Pre-scheduled guided visits are available for groups of 15 or more. Admission to the Learning Center is always free.”
Colorado – Our Courts
Our Courts is a joint activity of the Colorado Judicial Institute and the Colorado Bar Association that provides nonpartisan information programs to further public knowledge and understanding of the state and federal courts in Colorado. In 2019, Our Courts developed a presentation for the Colorado General Assembly on the organization, function, and role of the Colorado judiciary. (Our Courts - CO Presentation)
Connecticut – Speakers Bureau
The Connecticut Judicial Branch Speakers Bureau maintains a panel of Judges and other court officials interested in speaking to community audiences on a wide range of court-related topics. The Speakers Bureau was created to help judges around the state share their areas of expertise with the public. The range of topics, which speakers are available to address, reflect the diversity of the Connecticut Judiciary.
Florida – Programs
The Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida is committed to educating the public by enhancing understanding of the Court’s roles and responsibilities in the community. A comprehensive Public Information Program that inspires public trust and confidence and provides the community with an opportunity to learn about the judicial branch is actively underway in the circuit. Successful community outreach programs and services include: Inside the Courts, Speakers Bureau, Town Halls, comprehensive court tours and various court publications. In addition, the judges and court staff visit numerous schools and speak to children from kindergarten to college about the courts and opportunities in the legal profession. The Court has moved further into the technological realm in creating jury videos, initial appearance and arraignment videos and public service announcements on court programs and services. Many of these videos are produced in different languages and can be viewed on the Court’s web site or on Orange TV, Government Access.
The Hawaii State Judiciary Page Community Outreach page has a ‘Courts in the Community Page’ which offers an “educational outreach program that gives high school students unique, hands-on experience in how the Hawaii judicial system works.”
The Hawaii State Judiciary Family Court offers monthly Divorce Law in Hawaii public education programs. It covers “custody, property division, child support, and alimony.”
Massachusetts - Judicial Youth Corps Program
Since 1991, the Judicial Youth Corps Program, administered by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, has offered high school students from urban communities the opportunity to learn about the court system and the law.
The Minnesota Judicial Branch offers a variety of resources for lesson plans for K-12 teachers and students. They also offer a Speakers Bureau which provides speakers in the judiciary at no cost to schools, civic, businesses, and community groups. They are available to speak about: “the Minnesota Judicial Branch, juvenile justice, how civil and criminal cases proceed, sentencing,”, as well as other topics.
The Nebraska State Bar Foundation offers a joint program for students with the Nebraska Supreme Court called Law Day Job Shadowing. Groups of fifth graders get to spend one hour with lawyers, judges, or other people involved in law enforcement and get to ‘see their relationship to both criminal and civil laws’
New Hampshire – On the Road
The New Hampshire Supreme Court launched its "On the Road" program for high school students in May 2002 at St. Anselm College in Manchester. Since then, sessions have been held at Dartmouth College, Dover High School, Plymouth State University and Keene State College, Nashua High School North, Phillips Exeter Academy, Berlin Junior High School, Bow High School, and Souhegan High School. These unique events provide students and community members an unusual opportunity to see the state’s highest court up close and learn about its work through a dialogue with the lawyers and the justices. The “On the Road” program is the only occasion when the court convenes outside the Supreme Court building in Concord.
New Jersey –Newark Youth Courts Civics Law Day Moot Court Program
The Newark Youth Court in Newark, New Jersey () held a civics Law Day (May 1st) moot court program for high school students with the theme of “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters.” The materials for this program, including a guide for preparing and conducting a moot argument procedure, are available to replicate.
New Mexico – Community Outreach Program
New Mexico Judiciary established their Community Outreach program/Judicial Speakers’ Bureau in an effort to educate the public about the role of the courts in our democracy and the importance of judicial independence to that democracy. Participating judges may share information with the community concerning a variety of topics related to the Judiciary Branch. A partial list of topics includes the role of the courts and how the courts impact the community; judicial independence; the critical role each citizen of the community plays in our democracy by participating in jury service; and civil and criminal proceedings. Judges participate as their schedules permit and at no cost.
New York - Judicial Officer Speaker Bureau
The New York State Unified Court System can provide speakers, at no cost, to schools, civic, business, religious and other community groups in an effort to increase understanding about the judicial branch of government. Judicial and non-judicial personnel participate depending on their availability. All judges are bound by the canons of Judicial Ethics and are unable to address certain matters, such as pending litigation. Speakers will discuss court-related subjects of special interest to the host group.
Ohio – Off-Site Court
In 1987, Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, Supreme Court of Ohio, wanted to honor the year of the bicentennial of the U. S. Constitution and initiated the educational program, Off-Site Court, which has brought the judiciary live and in person to local communities across Ohio for 26 years. The Off-Site Court program is designed to educate high school students and other Ohioans throughout the state about Ohio's judicial system. Twice each year, once in the spring and once in the fall, the Supreme Court of Ohio relocates from the capital city and holds sessions in another community, selecting a different county.
Oregon – Oral Arguments
The Oregon Court of Appeals judges and staff regularly travel around Oregon to hear oral arguments and talk with high school and college students and community groups about the Court's work and about Oregon's justice system. Since 1998, the Court has held oral arguments at schools, universities and local courts in 42 different cities. A panel of three judges and a staff person work with the schools and local courts to schedule the trips. The judges meet with students who attend the arguments to discuss the appellate process and the Court's work. Often, students are able to read the briefs in the cases and discuss them in class before the Court arrives; the Court works to choose cases that involve local parties and lawyers and present issues that would interest the students.
Rhode Island – Justice Rules
Justice Rules is an educational initiative of the Rhode Island Judiciary introduced in 2004. The K - 12 curriculum includes suggested lessons to supplement a classroom syllabus, and the lessons are aligned to state social studies standards.
Rhode Island – Riding the Circuit
Once or twice a year, the Rhode Island Supreme Court hears cases in different venues throughout the state. This revived tradition called “riding the circuit” dates to colonial times when the courts and other bodies of government traveled from town to town, taking the people’s business directly to the people. When the Court rides circuit, the justices hear actual cases argued by Rhode Island attorneys. This is not simply an educational demonstration; it is a true court proceeding. While the public is always welcome to observe court sessions in the Licht Judicial Complex in Providence, these special sessions grant people the rare opportunity to see the appellate court process at work right in their own communities. These traveling court sessions are part of the Judiciary’s ongoing effort to raise awareness and understanding of matters related to the third branch of government.
Utah - “Judge for a Day”
The Utah State Courts “Judge for a Day” Program, was created to provide high school students with an opportunity to shadow a judge for one day in April or in May. The school selects a student to participate in the program based on a Law Day theme-related essay, civic involvement resume, or a teacher nomination letter.
Wisconsin - “Court with Class”
Court with Class is an award-winning program designed by the Wisconsin Court System to make Supreme Court proceedings understandable and accessible to all high school students in Wisconsin. While visiting the Wisconsin Supreme Court students are able to listen to attorneys present oral arguments; see the behind-the-scenes activities of the highest court in the state; and talk with a Supreme Court justice in an informal, question-and-answer session.
Wisconsin - “Rope of Sand” Play
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court produces a two-act stage play from the transcripts of a series of actual trial proceedings. Wisconsin dramatized a fugitive slave case from the 1850s to connect its historical legacy to modern social problems. The drama played to live audiences and inspired a TV documentary. The Court performs various other activities to engage the public, available on its website.