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Public Outreach and Communications – Annual Report 2022

Federal judges and court staff conduct a variety of public outreach and communications efforts every year to improve public understanding of the Judiciary’s role in American democracy.

In this video profile, U.S. Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, of the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, discusses her determination in pursuing a career in law.

Civics Education

Throughout 2022, federal judges and volunteer attorneys engaged local students in courtrooms and classrooms both virtually and in person to heighten awareness of the importance of civil discourse and the role of the courts in daily life. The events are part of a Judiciary-wide effort to expand civics education in schools and communities. 

One example of initiatives by federal judges is Civil Discourse and the Constitution: Candid Conversations, a 50-minute interactive question-and-answer session that gives students the opportunity to practice civil discourse skills and to ask judges and attorneys about topics of concern. Local Federal Bar Association chapters and volunteer attorneys field questions with the judges. For Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, judges and association volunteers reached more than 350 students at 13 high schools in Charleston, S.C. 

Court-sponsored professional development institutes were conducted across the country to enhance court literacy for educators. Teachers talked with judges about judicial independence in their decision-making and with lawyers about constitutional tensions between the First Amendment and national security concerns. The programs are geared toward fifth through 12th grade teachers.

After a two-year hiatus from in-person programs due to COVID-19, bankruptcy judges returned to classrooms to teach students how to manage personal finances with informed planning and decision-making. Bankruptcy judges have participated in the Credit Abuse Resistance Education initiative for 20 years. 

The network of court-based community learning centers grew in 2022, with the completion of a space in the Indianapolis courthouse in December. Two centers were planned for courthouses in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn., opening in 2023 and 2024, respectively. These hubs of civics activity join learning centers in St. Louis, Sacramento, and New York City.  

Focus on Diversity in the Judiciary

Every year, the Judiciary seeks to enhance and promote diversity in the legal profession and the courts by highlighting the stories of judges and other court leaders with diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and sexual-orientation backgrounds. In 2022, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) produced several video and narrative stories for use in classrooms and community settings and on social media. The work included stories about:  

100th Anniversary of the Judicial Conference of the United States

JCUS Centennial logo

The centennial year of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the federal Judiciary’s policy-making body, was celebrated throughout the Judiciary. The anniversary also provided an opportunity in 2022 to educate the public about the federal courts, their governance and operation, and their role in maintaining the rule of law. The AO provided several online resources offering a wealth of detail about the history and workings of the Conference, dating to its first session in 1922 presided over by then Chief Justice William Howard Taft at the Supreme Court. Topics explored during the course of the year included an interactive timeline, a narrative with historical photographs, and an accounting of how the Conference has dealt with national emergencies since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

“The Judiciary’s power to manage its internal affairs insulates courts from inappropriate political influence and is crucial to preserving public trust in its work as a separate and coequal branch of the government,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in his 2021 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary

Audio Streaming Pilot

Livestreaming audio of civil cases of public interest in federal courts will continue through March 2023 as part of a pilot program authorized by the Judicial Conference. The two-year effort launched in February 2021 and now includes 18 district courts, 10 bankruptcy courts, the Court of Federal Claims, and the Court of International Trade. 

In March 2022, the Conference authorized pilot courts to make audio recordings of livestreamed proceedings available on their YouTube channels for up to one year. 

The pilot program is helping identify livestreaming-related policy, technical, operational, budgetary, and administrative issues that the Conference’s Committee on Court Administration and Case Management can consider when evaluating potential amendments to the Judiciary’s broadcasting policy. The committee recruited volunteer courts of varying sizes and from different regions to serve as pilot courts. 

Audio streaming of civil proceedings requires the parties’ consent and is subject to the presiding judge’s discretion. The pilot excludes trials or civil proceedings involving jurors; witnesses; or sealed, confidential, or classified materials. Guidelines for bankruptcy courts generally track the guidelines for district courts while including a few modifications that address specific types of bankruptcy court proceedings, such as adversary proceedings.   

PACER Public User Group

The AO appointed 12 new members to its Electronic Public Access Public User Group in October 2022. The members represent a cross-section of Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) users, including representatives of the legal profession, commercial firms, the media, academia, government agencies, and the public. They will provide important feedback, along with internal user groups, as the Judiciary modernizes the PACER service.

PACER is the main access point for court records for the public, litigants, the media, academic institutions, and others. Established in 2020, the Public User Group provides advice and feedback on ways to improve the Judiciary’s electronic public access services. Its members have contributed to a variety of improvements, including creation of a pro se user page on the PACER website, improvements in the PACER Case Locator, and raising awareness among courts of the importance of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. 

Members of the new group were selected by the AO based on user type, experience accessing court electronic records via PACER, frequency of usage, an account status in good standing, and a commitment to collecting additional feedback from peers. Members serve two-year terms. The Public User Group holds an annual meeting and additional meetings as needed. View meeting agendas and summaries.