Dayton, Ohio’s inaugural Federal Court “Court Camp”/Justice Institute

On July 8 and 9, 2024, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio held, in the Dayton seat of court, its first-ever civics court camp for high school students - what the court calls the “Dayton Student Justice Institute.”


First-ever Teachers’ Institute in the Dayton, Ohio Federal Courthouse

Earlier this week, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio held its first-ever Teachers’ Institute civics education program in the Dayton seat of court. Teachers from throughout the Dayton community spent two days learning about criminal cases (on Day 1) and civil cases (on Day 2).  



Southern District of Ohio Civics Education Outreach

On June 26, 2024, Judge Michael Newman and Magistrate Judge Caroline Gentry met with law student externs - from the U.S. District Court and from Legal Aid of Western Ohio - as part of the Southern District of Ohio’s continuing civics education outreach efforts.



Associate Justice John Marshall Harlan, The Great Dissenter

In view of the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.  The humblest is the peer of the most powerful.  The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved.



Juries: Achieving a Fair Cross Section of the Community

Juror Appreciation Week is observed in the month of May. Jury service is among the nation’s most important civic duties, and the people who serve on juries certainly deserve appreciation for their service to our country.

The founders feared governmental tyranny, so they built juries into our legal system. They believed certain functions were simply too important to be left to government officials acting alone. For this reason, prosecutors do not have the power to bring indictments requiring those under investigation to stand trial for felony criminal offenses; rather, only ordinary citizens called together into grand juries can bring indictments. Likewise, it is not judges, but ordinary citizens called together into trial juries, who decide guilt or innocence in criminal trials or liability and damages in civil trials where there are disputes about the facts.

Most of us have some idea what jurors do after they arrive in a courthouse. But what is the process to get there? And who among us is legally qualified to serve? 



The Rule of Law - Implemented by Men and Women

We are all familiar with the phrase, the rule of law.  We tend to think of those words more in connection with the judiciary than the other two branches of government.  However, the concept of the rule of law has a long heritage in the United States.  Founding Father John Adams articulated the concept when he famously called a republic “a government of laws, not of men.”  John Adams’ cousin and fellow Founding Father, Samuel Adams, observed that the rule of law means that “There shall be one rule of justice for rich and poor, for the favorite in court, and the countryman at the plough.” Today, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts lists the rule of law as “a principle under which all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, independently adjudicated, and consistent with international human rights principles.”  In short, the rule of law reflects the founders’ desire to create a system committed to promoting the fair and impartial application of the law.  All segments of our society claim allegiance to this noble principle, yet the application of the rule of law looks different across the branches of government.



The Judiciary is Enriched by the Inclusion of Women

Since 1987, March has been recognized as National Woman’s History Month, so it is fitting that we acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of women to our country’s judiciary this month. From the four women serving as Associate Justices of the United States Supreme Court to the women serving on the lower federal courts and as justices or judges of state courts, the nation has much for which to be thankful. 



Black History is Inextricably Intertwined With American Legal History

February is Black History Month.  In previous years, we have honored Black History Month by highlighting important African American legal figures, many of whom were the first in their respective positions.  However, this year, we will use cases to point out some of the ways African American history is inextricably intertwined with American legal history.  This small sample of Supreme Court cases demonstrates the ebb and flow of American legal sentiment towards its Black constituency.



The Federal Courts Remain Steadfast in the Midst of Societal and Technological Change

Chief Justice John Roberts recently issued his 2023 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary. In his report he discussed ways the federal judiciary has adapted to ever changing technology and is using modern technology. Chief Justice Roberts began his report by stating “the arrival of new technology can dramatically change work and life for the better.” He then discussed how the rural electrification program dramatically improved lives. He goes on to discuss how the legal profession and the judiciary moved from the quill pen to typewriters and then to personal computers. 



Judges: Beholden to The Constitution and Accountable to The People

“WE THE PEOPLE.” The first three words of the United States Constitution are “We the People.” These three words are also the most important words in the entire document. For it is “the people” who “ordain[ed] and establish[ed]” the Constitution and by so doing created the government of the United States. With the words “We the People,” the Constitution recognizes that the ultimate political authority and power in the nation is “the People.”