The Jacksonville Division of the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, teamed up with the Duval County School Board Tuesday to provide teachers a lesson about the courts and the U.S. Constitution.
The federal court has been hosting high school students through the “Open Doors to Federal Courts” program sponsored by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, but the Jacksonville District thought it could reach more students by providing the teachers an education in civics.
“Teachers are getting pretty beat up lately with budget cuts, so we wanted to do something to help them out,” said U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard.
“The goal is to give teachers the tools to bring civics education back into the classroom,” she said.
The Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse hosted about 70 teachers from Duval County for the day of learning.
Howard and U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan provided an overview of the state and federal court systems and discussed the role of the judiciary.
“This is great. How often do you get a chance to tap into the brain of a federal judge?” said Mark Schrader, a teacher at Twin Lakes Middle School.
The group also learned about the anatomy of a criminal case from U.S. Magistrate Judge James Klindt, Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Savell and attorney Mark Rosenblum.
A demonstration of a sentencing hearing included Senior U.S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tysen Duva and attorney David Barksdale.
Attorney Hank Coxe provided a presentation about the Bill of Rights asking, “Which one would you give up?”
The day also included a viewing of “Conversations on Catfish, Courtrooms and Change: The Life and Times of Henry Lee Adams Jr.”
Senior U.S. District Judge Adams was available for questions after the movie and teachers were eager to bring him to their schools to talk to students.
“I can talk to small classes, but I gave up public speaking 50 years ago,” Adams joked.
Howard was thankful for the help and cooperation of the Duval County Public Schools and the members of the legal community who volunteered for the program.
“When we talked to people and they heard what we were doing, they didn’t hesitate to get on board,” said Howard.