Civics Education

Citizens' understanding of the fundamentals of civic rights and responsibilities of individuals and the history and functions of our government, including the role of the courts, helps to strengthen our democracy and the rule of law. Our civic education initiative supports educational institutions and other community organizations in developing age-appropriate interactive and engaging learning experiences.

With advance notice, we welcome court visits from school groups, mentorship program participants, and community groups throughout the Sixth Circuit, as well as dialogue on how we can assist educators in enhancing civic education. Civic education opportunities are potentially available every week day (other than national holidays).

In connection with court visits by classes, internship and mentorship programs, and in special programs for educators, we facilitate and assist in providing civic education training on the administration and development of the law, to high school students enrolled in law-focused courses, public school students enrolled in general social studies courses, and teachers in professional development programs.

In promoting these goals, we work closely with public entities, community groups and professional organizations. We look forward to expanding our civics education work and partnerships throughout the circuit.


Dayton Civics Initiative Takes Flight - Read More

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.”

More than 40 high school students from throughout the Dayton region heard from United States District Judges and United States Magistrate Judges; career and term federal law clerks; Richard Nagel, the Clerk of Court; Joseph Medici, the Federal Public Defender; Assistant U.S. Attorneys; Assistant Federal Public Defenders; and representatives from U.S. Pretrial Services and U.S. Probation.

Day 1 of the Justice Institute was focused on criminal law including sentencing; Day 2 was focused on civil law including immigration. On Day 2, the high school students heard from University of Dayton School of Law (“UDSL”) professor Ericka Curran, who explained immigration law, and a representative from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. UDSL Associate Dean Chris Roederer also explained the First Amendment to the high school students.

The students witnessed a naturalization ceremony for 10 new citizens on Day 2 and concluded the Justice Institute with a moot court on a First Amendment school law issue.

The Court is grateful to Magistrate Judge Peter Silvain for planning the Justice Institute along with United States District Judge Michael Newman and United States Magistrate Judge Caroline Gentry.

Dayton-area high school students participating in the Dayton Federal Court’s inaugural Justice Institute pose with Judge Newman, Judge Silvain, Judge Gentry, Clerk Nagel, Professor Curran, and Judge Silvain’s law clerks.

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.

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).  

In addition to hearing from multiple federal judges and participating in a mock trial with the assistance of law firm counsel, the teachers heard from representatives of the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Public Defender’s Office, Pretrial Services and Probation. United States Marshall Michael Black and Federal Public Defender Joe Medici also spoke to the teachers.  

The Dayton judges are grateful to our Chief Judge, the Hon. Algenon Marbley, who fully and enthusiastically supported this effort. The judges also thank Rebecca Fanning from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for her assistance in planning this civics event.

Next month, the Dayton judges will host the two-day Dayton Students’ Justice Institute, a civics education seminar for high school students - the first of its kind in the Dayton federal courthouse. 

The Dayton judges plan to hold both the Teachers‘ Institute and the Students’ Justice Institute every summer going forward.

Photo: Standing with Dayton teachers are (left to right) United States Magistrate Judge Caroline Gentry, United States District Judge Michael Newman, and United States Magistrate Judge Peter Silvain. 

Book Reading Recording at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center

On July 1, 2020, Senior Judge Curtis L. Collier participated in a book reading recording at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center in Chattanooga for the Center’s new series titled “Bessie’s Front Porch.” The series will be posted on the Center’s Facebook page to reach children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Judge Collier read Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier (no relation).”

Judge Curtis L. Collier