Public Outreach – Annual Report 2018
Federal judges and court staff conducted a variety of public outreach efforts with the goal of bringing greater understanding of the role of the Judiciary in American democracy.
New Outreach Program Teaches Civil Discourse
In 2018, courts around the country began taking part in a new educational outreach initiative called Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions, aimed at high school and college students. Using a prepared set of learning materials, judges and attorney volunteers conduct realistic courtroom simulations with students. Judges hear oral arguments by student “attorneys,” while other students serve as the jury. Cases involve situations familiar to young people, such as cyber-bullying. Students learn to set ground rules and establish norms for civil discourse, then put those skills to use during realistic jury deliberations. Students practice treating each other with respect and empathy as they go through mock deliberations. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) supplies all of the necessary materials for courts that wish to participate. The program opens with a video, featuring six judges discussing civility as an important legal and life skill.
Video Series Provides History Lessons
A highlight of the Judiciary’s website offerings is a video series called Moments in History showcasing cases and people that have shaped the nation and the courts. The newest installment in 2018 featured the career of Senior Judge Damon J. Keith, who has been a champion of civil rights and a leader in the federal Judiciary well into his 90s. The AO also produced a video for Women’s History Month featuring Senior Judge Carolyn Dimmick, of the Western District of Washington, who broke through glass ceilings in the law as one of the pioneering women in the Judiciary.
Public Communication Resources for Judges and the Media
The AO developed a new internal online resource for courts to develop effective strategies for communicating with the public and the media. It provides tips on using social media, creating engaging website content, and accommodating the media during high-profile cases. Among the resources provided is a revised, comprehensive Journalist’s Guide for reporters who cover federal court proceedings. The booklet can be shared electronically or downloaded for distribution as a paper copy.