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Community and Educational Outreach, Civics Education and Volunteer Opportunities


Teen Discourse and Decisions (TD Squared)

TD Squared is a program that brings students into the federal courthouse, during which high school students engage with volunteer lawyers and the presiding judge. Students actively participate in discussions related to critical life skills, civil discourse and adult decisions with permanent legal consequences. The students then participate as lawyers or jurors in a courtroom simulation using a United States Supreme Court case. Led by United States District Judges Robin Rosenberg and Beth Bloom, the program is presented in a 3-hour period and coordinated through the local Federal Bar Association’s Civics Outreach Committee.

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions Activity

Program at Palm Beach State College

Judges Teach Civility as a Legal and Life Skill

Photos from TD Squared Events

Program Description

Teens are exposed to situations that require adult decision-making skills. However, in the moment, high school students may not recognize that their decision or indecision can have legal and long-term consequences. Examples include: choices about using social media; participating in a spoof at a football game; being a passenger in a car; hanging out at a house party; celebrating on a camping trip; or shopping at the mall. Young people may not know that in some circumstances, being underage does not inoculate them from consequences. They can get caught up in the legal system because of the decisions they make – or don’t make – as well as the decisions and actions of peers they are with. Even when teens are not involved directly in unwise or illegal activity, there can be legal implications, such as having to testify as a witness. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time, sometimes, is preventable if adults help teens anticipate and talk through various scenarios in advance. The activities in this series can start those conversations. They are based on realistic situations in which law-abiding teens and good students can find themselves. The scenarios are played out to the possible legal consequences that teens may not expect. The fact patterns show how decisions as basic as leaving or going along can create high-risk situations that end in court. The fact patterns found here allow students to identify with the decision makers, the participants, the observers, and the unaware bystanders.


Additional Classroom-Ready Resources

Background

The Federal Courts' Unique Niche in Civics Education: Courtrooms, Judges, Lawyers, Teens and their Issues

These courtroom and classroom activities apply contemporary Supreme Court cases to today’s teen issues, creating the federal courts’ unique niche in civics education. Court simulations offer real-life experiences with judges and attorneys at local federal courthouses. All learning styles are involved in the courtroom action and, most importantly, in jury deliberations and judicial sentencing decisions. The activities are supported by interactive web resources and multi-media tools, including videos and podcasts on court fundamentals. These original, courtroom-ready and classroom-ready simulations are the centerpiece of a national pilot program to build teens’ decision-making capacities, to equip them with civil discourse skills, and to introduce them to the human face of the judiciary. The U.S. District Court judges of the Southern District of Florida are the first to undertake the pilot, facilitated by U.S. District Court Judges Robin L. Rosenberg and Beth Bloom. Ultimately, these real-life experiences expose young people to the way courts and communities come together in courtrooms to work out disputes through civil discourse and reasoned decision making – the same skills students practice in these courtroom simulations. The participants’ real-world immersion in the courts is designed to motivate young people to become part of the process in any of a number of roles inside and outside the justice system and to inspire them to serve on juries willingly when called.


Care Academy

The Southern District of Florida hosted school children from CARE Elementary School for a tour of the U.S. District Courthouse and a day of learning about the legal system. At the Wilkie D. Ferguson U.S. Courthouse, students were able to participate in an interactive tour through the U.S. Marshal’s Office, a Judge’s private chambers and public courtrooms. Students were able to gain knowledge of the court process by participating in a mock trial with United States District Judge Donald Graham. The trip to the courthouse reiterated the school’s mission of preparing confident, lifelong learners and responsible citizens.

Opportunities like this one enrich the educational experience for school age children and expose them to career choices that are available if they set goals and work toward a strong academic foundation. This special learning opportunity was made possible through coordinated efforts provided by United States District Judge Donald Graham and his chambers, Mrs. Devona Perez and the Caribbean Bar Association.

Photos from Care Academy Events


Naturalization Ceremonies

Naturalization ceremonies are public events that bring communities, schools, and new citizens together in federal courthouses. These ceremonies allow students to observe or participate in a citizenship ceremony and learn more about the federal courthouse. For more information, click here. Space is limited.


CARE Court

The Court Assisted Re-Entry program (CARE Court) was established to help reduce recidivism by assisting moderate and high-risk offenders to successfully reintegrate into their families and community. Successful reintegration usually includes obtaining stable housing and stable employment. Started in 2016, CARE Court provides additional judicial oversight and intensive supervision to offenders. To aid in reintegration, CARE Court helps connect participants with service providers that can aid with things such as job skills training, job placement, legal assistance, and housing.

CARE Court is operated by a team of court professionals, including a presiding District Court judge, members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, members of the Federal Public Defender’s Office, and United States Probation Officers. CARE Court participants meet every other week with the CARE Court Team. At the meetings, the participants and the Team discuss the participant’s progress toward reaching the goals the participant set at prior meetings and new goals are set. Goals might include completing a GED, reinstating a driver’s license, or obtaining a job. Issues that have impeded a participant’s ability to reach his or her goals are also addressed and strategies for overcoming the impediment are discussed.

A participant graduates from CARE Court after having earned 75 points. Points are awarded for attending CARE Court and for reaching the goals set by the participant and CARE Court team. Upon graduation, a participant’s term of supervised release is reduced by 12 months.

Care Court Flyer


Legal Up!

Legal Up! is a collaborative effort under the auspices of the Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership, led by United States District Judge Ursula Ungaro in which over 190 prominent local attorneys, judges, and law students provide civic and life skills education to at-risk youth and juveniles in Miami-Dade County.