Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions Program with the...
Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions Program with the University of Washington at Tacoma Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions is a program developed by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The outreach pupilage group conducted this program over two days with undergraduate students from the University of Washington Tacoma and in collaboration with the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington in Tacoma. On the first day, which occurred in a University of Washington classroom, we discussed our legal system: the roles of the various participants (judges, lawyers and jurors) and the critical part civility plays in its functioning. Presenters explored how to have meaningful, civil conversations on difficult subjects and how to handle those who are not civil. The students were then divided into groups, eight were assigned to play lawyers and the remaining students were assigned the role of jurors. The lawyer students adjourned to separate rooms and were given a legal problem loosely based on the U.S. Supreme Court case U.S. v. Elonis. Members of the outreach pupilage group worked with the student lawyers (using the program's talking points) to prepare them for oral argument. For the students assigned to be jurors, the same legal problem was introduced and a more in depth discussion of their role was explored with Commissioner Farmer. All students considered issues around the first amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech and its intersection with criminal statute 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), which prohibits the transmission "in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing…any threat to injure the person of another." On the second day of the program, the students came to U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington for a courtroom simulation. With a Federal Judge presiding, the student lawyers presented their arguments and answered questions about their positions. Group members facilitated the student jurors' deliberation of the case. Conversations were, at times, emotionally charged but, the students actively worked on using the civility and listening skills they'd learned to make a decision as a group. At the end of the program, the students were then given a brief period of time to ask the volunteer judges and lawyers questions about their legal careers. This experience was a wonderful reminder of the importance of civility, not only to the legal system, but for all decisions groups of people have to make together. We also enjoyed fostering an interest in the law and legal careers. Our Inn looks forward to exploring options for additional outreach and mentoring activities with the undergraduate students at the University of Washington Tacoma.

Presented By: The Hon. Robert J. Bryan American Inn of Court (30025)

Presented: November, 2019

Topic Areas: Legal Practice, Public Relations Professionalism and General Ethics, Special Project

Materials: Script, Citations of Law, Fact Pattern, List of Questions, and Handouts

CLE Approval: N/A

State: Washington

Hours: N/A

Similar products

No products found