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Contemporary Issues Teach Teens about Federal Court System
The uscourts.gov website is offering several new courtroom simulations for use by high school teachers and federal courts that address contemporary issues and teen-related situations. They also teach students about the importance of jury deliberations and the relevance of the federal court system to their lives.
Two recently added simulations deal with Miranda warnings and counter-protests at funerals. Others deal with the legal conflicts arising from social media, texting while driving, teen house parties, and student protests. The simulations are available, with videos, podcasts, and interactive tools on-line at www.uscourts.gov/EducationalResources.aspx that are ready for immediate classroom and courtroom use.
The 3-hour courtroom simulations are based on Supreme Court cases and are participatory in nature. When hosted at federal courthouses, federal judges and local attorneys participate with students, acting as jurors and lawyers. After studying the case, students make their own arguments about the scenarios. Volunteer attorneys guide the students in preparing arguments that look to Supreme Court precedents for guidance. All students who are not acting as lawyers serve as active jurors in deliberations that require civil discussion, collaboration, and consensus building as they come to a unanimous decision.
Evaluations show that the courtroom programs build familiarity with the Judiciary, demonstrate federal courts’ relevance to young people’s concerns, and motivate participants to express a willingness to serve on juries when called.