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The federal judiciary is one of the three branches of the national government. It seeks to provide the fair and effective administration of justice for all persons and interests, regardless of race, color, creed, gender, or status. Federal courts and their state court counterparts provide a means for settling disputes peacefully, and help to foster democratic governance, consistent with the Constitution's goals of "justice" and "domestic tranquility." Those who founded our government recognized the critical importance of an independent national judiciary with a limited but essential role.
Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit launched the circuit-wide civic education initiative -- Justice For All: Courts and the Community -- to increase public understanding of the role and operations of the courts and bring courts closer to the community. Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York co-chairs the project. The initiative involves the federal courts of the Second Circuit, which comprises the states of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. We do not seek to put courts on a pedestal. Rather, our purpose is to help increase points of contact between the courts and the communities we serve, to facilitate mutual understanding, and help to ensure that the courts are accessible and effective public institutions. In our activities, we seek the participation of the various communities in which courts function. To that end, our mission encompasses two principal approaches: to bring the communities to the courts, and to bring the courts to the communities. In particular, we seek to encourage, develop, and support programs in civic education for all members of the public, especially students, and to engage the community through outreach efforts. With the active participation of members of the Bar and community organizations working through several communities, our activities include:
- hosting field trips to the courthouse for schools and community organizations to observe court proceedings and to meet with judges and court staff;
- holding moot courts and mock trials for students;
- developing educational resources for teachers about the law and justice system; developing learning centers;
- creating library labs for students;
- coordinating Constitution Day/Citizenship Day programs;
- supporting essay contests;
- sponsoring adult education programs in such areas as financial literacy;
- fostering jury service; and
- developing a speakers bureau whereby judges and members of the Bar visit the schools and community organizations to discuss the work of the courts.
Civic Education Programs
Judges: Hon. Victor Marrero, SDNY, Co-Chair, Hon. Vera M. Scanlon, EDNY, Co-Chair, Hon. Laura Taylor Swain, SDNY, Hon. Robert Levy, EDNY, Hon. Debra Carol Freeman, SDNY
Advisors: John Domurad, NDNY, Chief Deputy Clerk, Michael Fitzpatrick, SDNY, Chief Probation Officer, Debra Lesser, Justice Resource Center, James O'Connor, Esq., Sidley Austin, Joseph Schmidt, NYC Department of Education, John S. Siffert, Lankler, Siffert, Wohl LLP, Elizabeth Vicens, Cleary, Gottlieb, Steven & Hamilton, Russell R. Wheeler, Governance Institute and Brookings Institution
Adult Education Programs/CARE
Judges: Hon. Margaret Cangilos-Ruiz, Bankr. NDNY, Chair, Hon. Shelley Chapman, Bankr. SDNY, Hon. Elizabeth S. Stong, Bankr. EDNY
Advisors: Anna Flores, Credit Abuse Resistance Education, Executive Director, Elise Kanter, United States Bankruptcy Court, EDNY, William Z. Kransdorf, NYC Bankruptcy Assistance Project at Legal Services NYC
Judges: Hon. Joseph F. Bianco, EDNY, Chair, Hon. Carl L. Bucki, Bankr. WDNY, Hon. Elizabeth A. Wolford, WDNY
Advisors: Craig R. Bucki, Philips Lytle LLP, Steven V. Modica, Modica & Associates, Harry Rimm, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Saul B. Shapiro, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
Judges: Hon. Pamela K. Chen, EDNY, Chair, Hon. Deborah A. Batts, SDNY, Hon. P. Kevin Castel, SDNY, Hon. Therese W. Dancks, NDNY, Hon. Victor Marrero, SDNY, Hon. Sarah Netburn, SDNY
Advisors: Margaret Chen, National Museum of the American Indian, Eugene J. Corcoran, EDNY, District Court Executive, Daniel Cordova, Colorado Judicial Center, Dorothy Dougherty, NARA Programs Director, Luis M. Lopez, USCA, Circuit Librarian, Sonji Patrick, Latino Justice PRLDEF, Director of Education, Elizabeth Vicens, Cleary, Gottlieb, Steven & Hamilton, Prof. Emily Gold Waldman, Pace Law School, Russell R. Wheeler, Governance Institute and Brookings Institution, Catherine O'Hagan Wolfe, USCA, Clerk of Court
Re-enactments/Inns of Court
Judges: Hon. Denny Chin, USCA, Chair, Hon. Pamela K. Chen, EDNY, Hon. Therese W. Dancks, NDNY, Hon. Kiyo Matsumoto, EDNY
Advisors: Marjorie Berman, Krantz & Berman LLP, Jeffrey M. Butler, Global IP Consulting, Kathy Chin, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, Lee S. Richards III, Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP, James T. Snyder, Esq., Greene & Reid LLP
Courthouse Ceremonies & Visits
Judges: Hon. Margo K. Brodie, EDNY, Co-Chair, Hon. Michael P. Shea, D. Conn., Co-Chair, Hon. Margaret Cangilos-Ruiz, Bankr. NDNY, Hon. James L. Cott, SDNY, Hon. Mae A. D'Agostino, NDNY, Hon. A. Kathleen Tomlinson, EDNY
Advisors: Jojo Annobil, The Legal Aid Society, Immigration Law Unit, Molly C. Casey, Thuillez, Ford, Gold, Butler, & Monroe LLP, John Domurad, NDNY, Chief Deputy Clerk, Norma Meacham, Esq., Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP, Morgan P. Rueckert, Esq., Shipman & Goodwin LLP
Judges: Hon. Victor Marrero, SDNY, Co-Chair, Hon. Elizabeth S. Stong, Bankr. EDNY, Co-Chair, Hon. Debra Carol Freeman, SDNY
Advisors: Vincent Ted Chang, Esq., Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch LLP, Lori Lapin Jones, Lori Lapin Jones PLLC, Debra Kramer, Esq., Norma Ortiz, Ortiz & Ortiz, LLP, Joan R. Salzman, Federal Bar Council, Executive Director, Tamara Sepper, Producer, Charlie Rose
Contests for Students
Judges: Hon. Geoffrey W. Crawford, D. Vt., Chair, Hon. Mae A. D'Agostino, NDNY, Hon. Elizabeth S. Stong, Bankr. EDNY
Advisors: Lisa Chalidze, Esq., Peter G. Eikenberry, Esq., Law Office of Peter G. Eikenberry, Gary S. Klein, Carmody Torrance Sandak Hennessey LLP
Civic Education Media & Public Outreach
Judges: Hon. Holly B. Fitzsimmons, D. Conn., Co-Chair, Hon. A. Kathleen Tomlinson, EDNY, Co-Chair, Hon. Warren W. Eginton, D. Conn.
Advisors: Rebecca Fanning, Administrative Office of the US Courts, Kristina Fischer, Editor-in-chief (Retired), New York Law Journal, Luis M. Lopez, USCA, Circuit Librarian, David A. Sellers, Administrative Office of the US Courts, Tamara Sepper, Producer, Charlie Rose, Russell R. Wheeler, Governance Institute and Brookings Institution
Judges: Hon. Mae D'Agostino, NDNY, Co-Chair
Advisors: Saul Shapiro, Co-Chair, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
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For comments or questions on this initiative, please contact us.