U.S. Courts

Open Doors to Federal Courts is a bank of web resources and realistic court experiences developed by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for courtroom or classroom use. They inform with practical content about court structure and operations; inspire with first-person judge profiles; and involve high school students and teachers in true-to-life courtroom simulations with federal judges.

Featured Resources

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions is a national initiative of the federal courts that brings high school and college students into federal courthouses for legal proceedings that stem from situations in which law-abiding young people can find themselves. These court hearings (not mock trials) are realistic simulations that showcase jury deliberations in which all students and learning styles participate, using civil discourse skills. This activity includes: Reality Check Quiz and Discussion Starter; Civil Discourse Skill Building; Courtroom Simulation; and Reality Check Discussion.

Moments in History: Remembering Thurgood Marshall

Few people know the legal mind of justices or judges as well as the law clerks who have worked with them. Justice Thurgood Marshall’s former law clerks offer unique insights into the character, values, and thought processes of the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.  In this 8.5-minute video called “Moments in History:  Remembering Thurgood Marshall,” prominent lawyers reminisce about the examples of compassion and courage they saw in the life and work of this legal legend.  

Court Shorts: An Impartial Federal Judiciary

This short video from the U.S. Courts focuses on the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary. What does this concept mean to you? In this video, students question federal judges on these principles.

The Judical Nomination Process

What is the nomination process for Supreme Court justices and federal judges? Find out in a multimedia package of educational resources geared to high school students, their teachers, and interested adults. What do judges promise in the judicial oath of office? What is the role of justices and judges? What kinds of information are nominees asked to share during the nomination process? What do judges, themselves, say about what it means to be impartial?

How Federal Courts Impact You Every Day

2014 is the 225th anniversary of the creation of the federal courts. What difference do they make in the daily lives of law-abiding teens? From that first check of the mobile device in the morning to the last newscast at night, decisions made in federal courts touch every aspect of daily life. Who are the judges making the decisions? How are they selected? What is their job description? What is an impartial judiciary? How was the federal court system created?

The First Amendment and Teens

What does the First Amendment mean in the lives of teens? Over the years, the Supreme Court has struggled with First Amendment issues to determine what constitutes protected speech and, in particular, the speech of students. These activities, which engage all learning styles, apply Supreme Court precedents to relatable, teen scenarios. The modified trial simulations have been well tested in federal courtrooms. The resources are ready for immediate use in courtrooms and classrooms.

The Fourth Amendment and Teens

What does the Fourth Amendment mean in the lives of teens? When they are driving? When they are using their cell phone? When they are at a house party? The Supreme Court has found that it is not a guarantee against all searches and seizures, but only those that are deemed unreasonable under law. These activities, which engage all learning styles, apply Supreme Court precedents to relatable, teen scenarios. The resources are ready for immediate use in courtrooms and classrooms

The Sixth Amendment and Teens

What does the Sixth Amendment mean in the lives of teens? Landmark Supreme Court decisions have made the Sixth Amendment relevant to high school students, whether they become future jurors or defendants. These activities, which engage all learning styles, apply Supreme Court precedents to relatable, teen scenarios. The resources, which have been well tested in federal courtrooms across the country, are ready for immediate use in courtrooms and classrooms with no additional preparation.

Pathways to the Bench: African American History Month

Video profiles of seven African American federal judges, who overcame obstacles on their paths to the bench, are featured on the federal courts’ website. In their inspirational first-person narratives, they recount the challenges they faced growing up and offer uplifting insights. The four-minute videos are part of the federal courts’ Pathways to the Bench series.

Pathways to the Bench: Hispanic Heritage Month

The federal courts honor Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed from September 15 to October 15, by recognizing individuals who have made contributions to our country and inspire others to succeed. U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria G. Valdez, of the Illinois Northern District Court in Chicago, advises others who face challenges to keep going even when they don’t think they can succeed.

View All Resources

http://www.uscourts.gov

One Columbus Circle, NE
Washington, D.C., 20544

Organization Type: Governmental