Every quarter, the Federal Bar Association shines the spotlight on its chapters, sections, and divisions who have presented activities in relation to the FBA Civics Education Initiative. These programs bring the legal system to the community, including to children in schools nationwide, and provide accessible information to those who may not receive it elsewhere.


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On March 1, students attended a civics education presentation in Judge Michael J. Newman’s courtroom in the Southern District of Ohio.

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Photo from the Eastern District of New York’s “Bench in Your Backyard” event in March.

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Winners at the Long Island Mentor Moot Court Competition in March.

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On February 15, 2017, Judge Sandra R. Klein, of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California welcomed fifty (50) first year students from Loyola Law School (LLS) to her courtroom.  The Court’s hearing calendar was packed with motions for relief from the automatic stay, motions for sanctions and contempt, and numerous chapter 11 matters.  While some students had visited courts and observed hearings in the past, for many others, it was their first time being in a courtroom.

After concluding the hearings, Judge Klein spoke to the students and answered their questions.  The students inquired about a range of issues, from basic bankruptcy procedure to specific issues raised by counsel during hearings.  The students were curious about whether Judge Klein has ever changed tentative rulings after oral argument, what an appearance attorney’s responsibilities are, and how she determines what evidence is credible.  Students were also interested in knowing how often Judge Klein grants requests to continue matters.  Judge Klein explained that granting requests for continuances often allow parties to work out their issues, and she is always willing to give them the opportunity to do so.

Finally, Judge Klein shared some helpful insights with the students.  She stated that written advocacy is much more important than oral advocacy, noting that in some courts, oral argument is not permitted and the judge makes a decision based solely on the pleadings.  Judge Klein also encouraged the students to be meticulously honest with the court when citing the facts and the law because a lawyer’s reputation is extremely important and he or she never wants it to be tarnished.  Judge Klein concluded her remarks by mentioning that she hopes to see the students the next time she is at LLS.

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Judges Walter H. Rice, Sharon L. Ovington, and Michael J. Newman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Dayton, pose with career law clerk Michael Rhinehart and teachers from National Trail High School following a school visit to the court on March 1.

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The Eastern District of Pennsylvania Chapter held civics events with Judge Chan of the EDPA Bankruptcy Court on March 31, April 27, and May 18.

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The FBA Dallas Chapter hosted a field trip for about 20 seventh-graders from the West Dallas Community School. Our event took place at the federal courthouse in Dallas. It started with the students’ participating in a mock trial—the detention hearing for the “Grampa Bandit”—in Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez’s courtroom. After lunch, the students toured the courthouse and got a chance to meet with Bankruptcy Judge Harlin D. Hale. Next, one of the U.S. Marshals gave the students a tour focusing on the law enforcement aspect of the federal courthouse. The event concluded with a Q&A session with District Judge Sam A. Lindsay in his courtroom. We received great feedback from the teachers and the students. Special thanks to Judge Ramirez, Judge Hale, Judge Lindsay, and the many others who volunteered their time today to make the event a success.

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On April 20, the South Carolina Chapter sponsored a “Schoolhouse to Courthouse” event with Burke High School at the J. Waties Waring Judicial Center. The students enjoyed a BRIDGE drug court session with guest speakers Greg Mullen, City of Charleston Police Chief, and “Soni” Sonefield, former drummer for Hootie and the Blowfish. The students were addressed by the U.S. Marshals Service, and by Judge Hendricks and Judge Baker, who entertained their questions during lunch. A special thank you to Cheryl Shoun and Chase McNair for organizing the event. Many thanks also to Judge Hendricks and her staff, Judge Baker, and to Deputy U.S. Marshal George Pack, who all made this event a huge success!

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On May 1, approximately 350 high school students visited the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and learned about the work of the court and the many federal and state agencies that are involved in the justice system. The court’s prior “record” was about 200 students.

The students attended a presentation by two USCIS representatives who talked about their work and current issues in immigration law. There were also representatives from more than 25 federal agencies and a handful of state agencies who met with students face-to-face to tell them about the role their respective agencies play in the justice system. The students also enjoyed spending time in the beautiful Million Dollar Courtroom, where they learned about the room’s history and were able to engage with law clerks, judges, Pretrial Services officers, as well as attorneys who practice in the court. Chief Judge Hood and Magistrate Judge Stafford met with a group of students in the Chief Judge’s chambers. It was clear that all of these experiences made an impact on the students and will inspire them to learn more about the justice system.

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In May, the DC Chapter held a Court Camp with Judge Scott Stucky of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

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On May 16, the Northern District of California Chapter co-sponsored a program with the U.S. District Court and the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area in conjunction with the Ninth Circuit’s Civics Contest. A standing room only crowd of almost 200 people attended the program in the District Court’s Ceremonial Courtroom.

The program included a re-enactment of the 1942 trial and appellate proceedings in U.S. v. Yasui; a question and answer session with Karen Korematsu (daughter of Fred Korematsu, the defendant in Korematsu v. U.S., 323 U.S. 214 (1944)) and Dale Minami (lead counsel on behalf of Mr. Korematsu on the Petition for Writ of Coram Nobis filed in our District Court; and a presentation of awards to the Northern District of California winners of the Ninth Circuit’s Civics Contest (pictured above).