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Community Outreach

PROGRAMS

Court-Clergy Conference
Courtroom to Classroom
Diversity Committee
JusticeCorps
Mock Trial Program
Power Lunch Program
 

Programs for Visiting Foreign Judicial Delegations
SHADES
Speakers' Program
Teen Court
Volunteer, Internship and Externship Opportunities


Our Community Outreach Initiative:  Bringing Judges to the Communities We Serve

Community outreach is critical to the Los Angeles Superior Court and its mission to administer justice. Over the years, we have worked to develop strong ties with the community. These connections have been maintained and strengthened by the various community outreach efforts initiated by the Superior Court. Notably, the Court's judges volunteer countless hours to these programs to carry out the Court's mission to reach out to the diverse communities within Los Angeles County. The Court's community outreach efforts are coordinated by the Court's Outreach and Diversity Committees, with assistance from its Community Relations Office.

The Court's goal in implementing these programs is to increase access to justice for all and to increase dialogues with young people about what courts do, while encouraging youth to aspire to pursue a career in the legal profession, as lawyers, judges, interpreters, clerks, police officers, or other court-related professionals, or as other leaders in our community.

At a time when the Court's budget has been dramatically reduced, the Superior Court has been able to continue its Community Outreach program through the significant volunteer efforts of Judges, lawyers and students. Through these efforts, the Court oversees hundreds of services and programs throughout Los Angeles County that address the needs of parties as they navigate through the court system and the interests of students seeking to learn more about the justice system. From child waiting rooms and service centers for self-represented litigants, to the "power lunch" with judges, Teen Court and Mock Trial programs, the Superior Court is working to build trust and confidence among the constituents we serve. The following programs are examples of countywide initiatives aimed at expanding and enhancing the Court's relationship with the community.

Power Lunch Program

The Power Lunch Program provides civic education, judicial mentorship, and exposure to the judicial branch for local high school students. The Los Angeles Superior Court collaborates with bar associations including Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Bar Association Barristers, San Fernando Valley Bar Association, Mexican American Bar Association, Langston Bar Association, South Asian Bar Association and the American Board of Trial Lawyers to provide education and mentorship for high school students. Approximately 75 students attend each lunch, with students from various schools coming to courthouses throughout Los Angeles County for lunch with justice system professionals including judges, lawyers, court reporters, interpreters and members of law enforcement.

At the lunches, the students hear presentations about the Constitution and the legal system. The students break into smaller groups for personal interactions with the participating judges and lawyers. The Power Lunch concludes with an interactive game of Legal Jeopardy. This Project fosters a local connection to the legal system in a friendly, proactive way. While providing tangible civic education on the legal system, Power Lunch promotes diversity by fostering curiosity and facilitating a more personal connection to the justice system among a traditionally neglected youth population.

Students from Crenshaw High School visit the Stanley Mosk Courthouse for a 'Power Lunch' with Superior Court judges.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey talk with students from Dorsey High School during a Power Lunch at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr talks with students from Dorsey High School during a Power Lunch at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paul Suzuki talks with students from Dorsey High School during a Power Lunch at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

Teen Court

The Los Angeles Teen Court provides an opportunity for young people who commit non-serious crimes to be questioned, judged and sentenced by a jury of their peers. Teen Court is based on the philosophy that a young person who engages in criminal activity for the first time should have the opportunity to correct his/her habits before “graduating” to more serious crime. Our Teen Courts are located at Antelope Valley High School, Quartz Hill High School, Highland High School, Palmdale High School, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School, Canoga Park High School, Carson High School, Compton High School, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School, Dorsey High School, El Rancho High School, Fairfax High School, Franklin High School, Gardena High School, Grant High School, Northridge Academy, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, Pomona Unified School District, Roosevelt High School, Taft High School, Franky Carrillo Teen Court at Esteban Torres High School, Van Nuys High School, Venice High School, and Wilson High School.

Teen Courts in Los Angeles function as actual courts. Some Teen Courts have courtrooms on campus, some use classrooms and have occasional sessions in a local law school’s courtroom, and other Teen Courts use auditorium spaces on campus. Jurors are selected from the high school’s student body. For the young person accused of a crime, Teen Court is an alternative to the Juvenile Court process and offers the young person who is found guilty an opportunity, upon successful completion of the sentence within six months, the incentive of having no record of a criminal conviction. Furthermore, Teen Court prevents the harm caused to a young person by unnecessary involvement in the juvenile justice system. For the students who volunteer to participate as jurors, clerks and bailiffs, Teen Court offers valuable lessons about how courts operate and what it is like to be a part of the justice system. Many Teen Court jurors later express an interest in studying law. The Court and the public benefit from Teen Court because it enables the juvenile justice system to focus its resources on higher risk offenders and educates the public about the work of the Court.

Click here to request more information about Teen Court.

Judge Jose Sandoval (left) and Presiding Judge David Wesley (right) talk to students at Roosevelt High School about Teen Court
Mayor Villaraigosa at Roosevelt High School Teen Court's opening

SHADES

SHADES is a specialized Teen Court that focuses on youth crimes rooted in hate and bias. The acronym SHADES stands for Stopping Hate and Delinquency by Empowering Students. SHADES is a partnership between the Los Angeles Superior Court and the Museum of Tolerance. Selected Los Angeles area high school students who face juvenile charges for bias-motivated crimes, hate incidents and bullying due to race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sexual orientation or gender are tried by a jury of high school students who have undergone an intensive week long training at the Museum of Tolerance. The jurors recommend the sentence. SHADES trials are conducted year round primarily in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles and may in the future be conducted in other Los Angeles County courthouses as well. The jury is comprised of students from various high schools. In June 2013, 68 youth jurors received training to be SHADES jurors.

SHADES benefits young people by addressing the root of their prejudice, by allowing them to complete a six month probationary sentence, avoid having a criminal record, and by providing an alternative to expulsion or transfer to another school. SHADES benefits campus administration by addressing the roots of campus tension and violence so as to prevent future incidents. SHADES jurors benefit by developing an understanding of issues related to diversity, problems created by prejudice, hate and bullying. They further benefit by learning skill sets that help them effectively adjudicate the crimes and hate incidents, including self awareness, enhanced empathy toward people different than themselves, and both questioning and listening skills. Los Angeles County is one of the most diverse populations in the world and presents more than 3.5 the number of hate crimes per person than other states in the U.S.. One third of those are committed by young people under 18. Eleven percent are committed in a school setting. Thus, the Court provides an important resource for the community by steering youth away from violent acts committed out of ignorance and hate.

Judge David Sotelo engages students in an interactive workshop on juror skills: how to effectively questions defendants and witnesses.
Sylvia Mendez tells the story behind the Mendez v. Westminster case brought by her parents and others that effectively ended school segregation in California.
SHADES trial at Museum of Tolerance conducted by Presiding Judge David Wesley and Judge Gail Ruderman Feuer
Student Jurors are encouraged to speak publically at Museum of Tolerance training.
SHADES jurors deliberate guided by Judge Michelle R. Rosenblatt

Mock Trial Program

The Superior Court partners with the Constitutional Rights Foundation in offering the annual Mock Trial Program. Mock Trial promotes a working knowledge of our justice system among youth by having students role play the various facets of a legal case in courthouses throughout the County. Students actively experience the excitement of working in teams, exchanging ideas, setting goals, and examining issues while interacting with positive role models from the legal community. Each year, the Mock Trial Program serves over 2100 students across Los Angeles County and involves over 350 members from the bar and bench.

For more information contact Nancy Sanchez at nancy@crf-usa.org or call (213) 316-2109.

Mock trial proceedings, Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Mock Trial Competitions 2013, Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Mock Trial Competitions 2013, Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Mock Trial Competitions 2013, Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Mock Trial Competitions 2013, Stanley Mosk Courthouse

Courtroom to Classroom

Judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court visit 8th and 11th grade U.S. History classrooms throughout Los Angeles County as part of the Courtroom to Classroom program. A team of judges and attorneys visits a middle school or high school classroom twice a year to present lessons that are part of the prescribed California History Social Science standards for U.S. history. On each visit, the team presents a slide show about an aspect of the Constitution and its place in United States history. But the centerpiece of each visit is when the students become lawyers and judges in a mock U.S. Supreme Court case on issues of interest to young people. This program, which the Court has developed in a partnership with the Constitutional Rights Foundation, is also effective because students interact closely with our judges and capable lawyers. These individuals present outstanding role models to inspire the students to do their best in school. For more information visit http://www.crf-usa.org/c2c/.
Judge John Kronstadt and Justice Carlos Moreno at Merced Middle School
Students at Merced Middle School present legal arguments in mock Supreme Court case in Courtroom to Classroom program.
Edward Velasquez, Superintendent, Montebello Unified School District observing the “Courtroom to Classroom” program at Merced Middle School.

Court-Clergy Conference

A Court/Clergy Conference brings together religious leaders and judges for a day-long structured dialogue about the justice system.

Religious leaders benefit from increased knowledge about our justice system--especially about the criminal, juvenile, drug and family law courts—enhancing their ability to provide pastoral counseling to families or individuals in their congregations. Congregants often seek advice from their pastors when they are confronted with legal proceedings, for instance, when a family member is arrested. Yet religious leaders themselves often have little knowledge about our justice system.

The Court/Clergy Conferences are organized to provide accurate information about the work of the courts to religious leaders of all faith traditions. The program accomplishes this through formal panel presentations; by providing informational handouts that religious leaders can use as references; by answering questions that are raised by the clergy during the conference; by socializing with the religious leaders during lunch and meeting breaks; and, finally, by arranging booths in the sign-up areas so that other justice agencies, like the Court Appointed Special Advocates in dependency court (CASA), can distribute their literature to the clergy.

The court has held seven Court/Clergy Conferences, with an average attendance of over 120 religious leaders.

At a recent Court/Clergy Conference, Judge Eric Taylor expressed the goals of the Court’s outreach program to the clergy leaders:


"Why do we in the court system care about outreach? Because it helps us to do justice. You can help us do justice if you are better informed and prepared to help the members of your community. You can help us do justice if you explain to us your concerns and convey to us the experiences you and your community have with the courts. You can help us do justice by partnering with us and other members of the justice system in outreach efforts."

Court-Clergy Conference, Fuller Theological Seminary
Court-Clergy Conference, (Criminal & Juvenile Panel), Fuller Theological Seminary
Court-Clergy Conference, Dependency Court panel, Compton, CA
Court-Clergy Conference, Compton, CA
Court-Clergy Conference, Compton, CA

Diversity Committee

A diverse bench is essential to the delivery of impartial justice and the preservation of confidence in our courts. Judicial decision-making is also enriched by including different voices and perspectives in the deliberative process. Although we live in one of the most dynamic and diverse states in the Union, the judicial appointment and election processes have not produced adequate levels of diversity on our bench.

The Los Angeles Superior Court’s Diversity Committee was established to address this problem. The Committee’s members participate in educational programs involving high school, college, and law students to encourage historically underrepresented, marginalized, and economically disadvantaged individuals to consider careers in the judiciary. The Superior Court has sponsored "diversity summits" to discuss the role of law schools in promoting diversity and the judicial appointment and vetting process used by the Governor's Office.

Judge William MacLaughlin, Diversity Summit,Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Diversity Summit, Stanley Mosk Courthouse

Programs for Visiting Foreign Judicial Delegations

The Superior Court regularly hosts visiting delegations of judicial officers and external justice organizations from all parts of the United States and many different areas of the world. The Court’s Judicial Delegations subcommittee is responsible for developing opportunities for court observation, identifying “host” judges, and designing other activities to teach visitors about the workings of the American justice system. The Court has hosted delegations from Mongolia, Bulgaria, Israel, China, Burma, Indonesia, Micronesia, South Korea and Japan, among others.
Mongolia Delegation
Ukraine Delegation
Taiwan Delegation

Speakers' Program

Community groups, colleges and universities can request judicial officers to speak about issues of concern to the community as well as addressing how the justice system works. The Speakers Program gives members of the community and students a chance to have face to face discussions with the court. Specifically, the program aims to address the following goals: (1) increasing public understanding and knowledge of the judicial system, (2) providing a forum for judges and members of the community to exchange views about common concerns, and (3) providing an opportunity for students, especially those from diverse backgrounds, to learn about the judicial system in an exciting way that might spark their interest in pursuing a legal career.

In the past, speakers from the Court have talked about a wide range of issues, most recently addressing impacts from the Court’s budget reductions.

JusticeCorps

The JusticeCorps program presents an innovative approach to solving one of the more pressing issues faced by courts around the country today: providing equal access to justice. Each year, through funding provided by AmeriCorps and the California Administrative Office of the Courts, the Los Angeles Superior Court recruits and trains 150 diverse university students to augment overburdened court and legal aid staff who are assisting self-represented litigants in court-based self-help programs. These highly motivated and well-trained students each provide 300 to 1700 hours of service of in-depth and individualized services to self-represented litigants. The program offers outstanding opportunities for students to learn about the law and to provide a much needed service to their community.

The programs we offer are as follows:

JusticeCorps College Student Program (Minimum 300 hours)
(Participants must be enrolled at one of our partnering campuses: California State University Dominguez Hills; California State University Long Beach; California State University Northridge; California Polytechnic, Pomona; University of California at Los Angeles; or University of Southern California.)

JusticeCorps Summer Program (Minimum 300 hours)

JusticeCorps Graduate Fellowship Program (Full-Time 1700 hours)

We recruit for the following year’s programs in late December or early January. Interested applicants can access our online application at http://www.courts.ca.gov/6013.htm. If you would like to learn more about the program, please contact Jennifer Kalish at jkalish@lasuperiorcourt.org or Sheree A. Valdoria at sandaya@lasuperiorcourt.org.

JusticeCorps Swearing In Ceremony with Presiding Judge David Wesley, Stanley Mosk Courthouse
JusticeCorps Recognition Ceremony, Stanley Mosk Courthouse
JusticeCorps Conference/Training

Volunteer, Internship and Externship Opportunities

Volunteers for the Court may receive class credit, learn about the justice system and gain valuable work experience. Interns or volunteers may also receive a mentor from our judicial administration. The program aims to bolster participants' self-esteem and to provide each with an understanding of court and related career opportunities.

Please visit the Court's web site to read about our available programs: http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/VolunteerOpportunities/UI/VolunteerInternExtern.aspx Additional information is provided as part of "Frequent Asked Questions."

If you need additional information, please contact Efrain Ruiz at ERuiz@LASuperiorcourt.org.

Former Governor of California, Gray Davis with Los Angeles Superior Court volunteers, Stanley Mosk Courthouse