Our District Court is a participant in the Third Circuit Courts and Community Committee, which is a Third Circuit Judicial Council Committee formed in April of 2014. The mission of the Courts and Community Committee is to connect the courts in our Circuit to their respective local communities by embracing initiatives that bring teachers, students, parents, lawyers, community leaders, and other civic participants into the courts to interact with judges and the justice system. Programs will be designed to improve an understanding of the role that the judicial system plays in our democracy.
In the past year, Judges of the District Court have participated in the “Judge Chats” program at the National Constitution Center (NCC) in Philadelphia. The Judge Chats allow students and judges to engage in an open and informative dialogue about judging and the judicial system. Judges talk to students and teachers about interpreting law and the implications of the Constitution on everyday life.
In May of 2016, Chief Judge Leonard Stark welcomed fourth, fifth and sixth grade students from First State Montessori Academy Charter School to visit his chambers to perform a mock trial in the cases of “Dogs v. Cats” and “Muffins v. Cupcakes.” Prior to the mock trial, Judge Stark and his chambers’ staff provided a tour of the courtroom and chambers. Chief Judge Stark spoke with students about the proceedings in federal courts and the duties of federal judges. The students were also given a tour by the U.S. Marshals which included access to the Marshals’ processing, detainee, and surveillance facilities. Students then formed groups in which students performed the role of judges, jurors, attorneys or witnesses. The mock trial included opening statements, examination of witnesses, rulings on objections and juror deliberations.