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Judicial Outreach Resource Center

The Judicial Outreach Network Committee has gathered resources from within the ABA, state and federal courts, and other national and local organizations, to be used by judges for outreach activities. The resources gathered to date can be found below.

ABA Outreach Resources

The first ever Judicial Division’s Judicial Outreach Network Committee’s National Judicial Outreach Week took place March 4-10, 2018 and has since taken place each March 1-10.  Every year, the theme is “Preserving the Rule of Law.” Learn more and download your own outreach toolkit/resource materials here.

ABA Judicial Division Webinar: All Hands on Deck: We're Al in the Judicial Outreach Business
A group of judges and lawyers describe and promote the Judicial Division’s “Preserving the Rule of Law” judicial outreach program. Now more than ever, it is incumbent upon us to provide this basic civics education to the general public. Judges can use outreach as an opportunity to describe their dockets, their jurisdiction, and, most importantly, their important role in the administration of justice in our society. Lawyers can answer questions from the public and explain how the judicial branches of federal, state and local governments apply the rule of law every day.

ABA Division for Legal Services Dialogue Magazine 
Dialogue, the magazine of the ABA Division for Legal Services, brings news and topical information about the delivery of legal services to low and moderate income people.  Archives are available online. Specifically, please refer to the Dialogue on the American Jury, designed to help high school classrooms and community groups explore the many issues related to trial by jury.  Additionally, you may refer to the Dialogue on Brown v. The Board of Education, a dialogue with high-school students about the history of the Brown decision and its continuing legacy in American law and society. The ABA encourages lawyers and judges across the country to organize Dialogues in their community. 

ABA Division for Public Education Resources for Judges and Lawyers
The ABA Division for Public Education offers resources specifically tailored for judges and lawyers. Please visit the page for a variety of useful materials.

ABA Division for Public Education Constitution Materials
The ABA Division for Public Education provides constitutional materials, including free speech topics for classrooms.   Additionally, there are materials and resources to assist with planning of Free Speech Week and Constitution Day. 

ABA Division for Public Education Civics and Law Academy
Conducted by lawyers, judges, teachers, youth workers, or other civic leaders, a "Civics and Law Academy" engages young people of middle school and high school age in learning about law and society. The purpose of an Academy is to prepare young people to be participants in our democratic society. In an Academy, knowledgeable, civically active adults share their expertise, experience, and enthusiasm for civic engagement with young participants. Each Civics and Law Academy provides participants with a minimum of eight (8) hours of curricular focus. As an Academy organizer, you may arrange your instructional hours to suit your specific situation.

Federal Court Programming

Federal Courts' Lessons for High School Students
In its ongoing effort to assist teachers and judges in educating young people about the federal courts, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts' Office of Public Affairs offers a series of lesson plans that support the 52-page overview of the federal judiciary called Understanding the Federal Courts.

Open Doors to Federal Courts 
“Open Doors to Federal Courts” is a national initiative that local federal judges conduct in their courtrooms. The annual event, which is presided over by the host judge, involves students in realistic legal dilemmas. Volunteer attorneys coach the students during the program. The topic is a new, teen-relevant issue every year.

To find out if your local federal court is participating, contact the National Outreach Manager for the Federal Courts at [email protected].

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.

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 CourtsSpeakers BureauTown 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 website 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.  

National Resources

The Federal Judges Association has a page for civics education with a subpage for ‘Teaching Tools for Civics Education’. This page provides ideas for lessons as well as links with explaining the proposed lessons.

The National Association of Women Judges offers a great variety of outreach programs including: From The Bar To The Bench (encourages women lawyers to consider judicial careers), Color of Justice Program (encourages girls and minorities of all age levels to consider legal and judicial careers by bringing them together with judges and lawyers), Informed-Voters Fair Judges Project (an Emmy award-winning civic education project.

Oyez was designed to provide students with a look into the Supreme Court. It has audio recordings of US Supreme Court arguments, information on the justices, and offers a virtual tour of several rooms in the Supreme Court program.

Street Law, Inc. and The Supreme Court Historical Society have joined forces to create a website with simplified summaries and explorations of landmark Supreme Court Cases. It also offers a range and activities and resources to reinforce the learnings from these cases.

The New York Times and NPR’s Justice Talking have collaborated to create Annenberg Classroom. Annenberg Classroom provides resources for understanding the judicial system specifically for high school students. Once you arrive at the home page, click on the courts tab under knowledge and there is a scrolling bar of resources.

Street law Inc. is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that “has been developing classroom and community programs that educate young people about the law and government” for the last 40 years. It offers a large free resource library.

The United States Courts website offers a Brown v. board of Education Re-enactment page with a variety of resources for educators.

Additional Resources

Informed Voters Project
The National Association of Women Judges "Informed Voters. Fair Judges" project (of which the Judicial Division is a partner) is a nonpartisan voter education project developed to increase the knowledge of our citizens regarding the judicial system because lack of knowledge threatens fair and impartial courts, which are the cornerstone of American democracy.

iCivics is a non-profit organization dedicated to reinvigorating civic learning through interactive and engaging learning resources.  Its educational resources empower teachers and prepare the next generation of students to become knowledgeable and engaged citizens.

The Center for Jury Studies 
The Center for Jury Studies, a project of the National Center for State Courts, is dedicated to facilitating the ability of citizens to fulfill their role within the justice system and enhance their confidence and satisfaction with jury service by helping judges and court staff improve jury management.  To do so, the Center engages in cutting-edge research to identify practices that promote broad participation by the community in the jury system; respect jurors' contributions to the justice system; utilize jurors' time effectively and make reasonable accommodations for their comfort and privacy, and; provide jurors with the decision-making tools necessary to make informed and fair judgments in the cases submitted to them.  The Center for Jury Studies disseminates this information through technical assistance contracts, educational programs, and public outreach.

Our Courts Colorado 
Our Courts is a joint activity of the Colorado Judicial Institute and the Colorado Bar Association that provides nonpartisan information programs to adult audiences around the state to further public knowledge and understanding of the state and federal courts in Colorado.  The Our Courts program was founded in September 2007.  Volunteer attorneys and judges have been to numerous communities in Colorado and some in Wyoming.  As of January 2013, 363 presentations have been made to 12,730 people in the state of Colorado and Wyoming. This program has been acknowledged both regionally and nationally. 

Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education
An initiative of The Florida Bar and its Constitutional Judiciary Committee, “Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education” is designed to give attorneys and judges activities that they can use to teach the fundamentals of government and the courts to adult civic and community groups.  

Courtroom to Classroom (C2C)
The Constitutional Rights Foundation Courtroom to Classroom (C2C) program brings judge and attorney teams to middle and high school classrooms where they engage students in PowerPoint-driven lessons and moot court activities. The curriculum materials are designed to support the 8th grade U.S. History, 11th grade U.S. History, or 12th grade Government course. The judge/attorney team visits the same class two times during the school year. 

Dialogue: Courts Reaching Out to Their Communities, A Handbook for Creating and Enhancing Court and Community Collaboration 
Produced by the Special Task Force on Court/Community Outreach of the Judicial Council of California, this detailed document includes model public education programs for working with youth and schools; juror education/appreciation; speakers’ bureaus; and courthouse tours.  These program models include general descriptions, “what works” tips, and samples and tools for developing programs.

Justice in the Classroom Program
The John Marshall Foundation’s Justice in the Classroom Program, a nationwide educational program, is designed to enhance the teaching of history and civics for children.  The Program brings Federal and State Judges into Public School classrooms for presentations and discussions with students about the Constitutional foundation of the United States, the three co-equal branches of government, the rule of law, and the role of the judiciary in preserving the rights and liberties of all citizens. 

The American Jury: Bulwark of Democracy 
This online resource guide provided by the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago and the Chicago Historical Society for teachers, students, and citizens is devoted to explaining the American jury system and its role in American legal, social, and political life.  It features lessons, information, and resources developed by the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago with high school teachers from California, Colorado, North Carolina, Washington, Wisconsin, and Illinois in cooperation with national experts and scholars on the jury system.

Judicial Outreach Liaison Program
In the Regional Judicial Outreach Liaison (JOL) program, which grew out of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) judicial fellowship program, the JOLs devote concentrated time to traffic safety issues in the states making up their specific NHTSA regions.  The program seeks to inform judges, judicial educators, prosecutors, law enforcement and other criminal justice professionals in the NHTSA regions about NHTSA traffic safety programs and goals.  NHTSA works with the ABA’s Judicial Division to select appropriate JOLs for the regions. The relationships and partnerships the JOLs foster will assist in meeting NHTSA’s goal of reducing highway traffic fatalities.