The Florida Bar

Florida Bar News

Justice Teaching takes to the airwaves in Jacksonville

Regular News

Justice Teaching takes to the airwaves in Jacksonville

Earlier this year, Justice Teaching Select Committee member Judge Karen Cole and Jacksonville attorney Wayne Hogan spread awareness about Justice Teaching in Duval County by bringing it to the small screen. The pair appeared on a public access television show titled, “Legal Issues Facing Jacksonville.” Hosted by the president of the Jacksonville Bar, Michael Freed, Judge Cole and Hogan engaged with Freed in a dialog about Justice Teaching and its benefits to participating students.

Judge Cole During the program, Hogan said because attorneys take an oath to protect and defend the U.S. and Florida constitutions, it is a natural progression for legal professionals to visit Florida schools and educate the next generation about these core doctrines.

Justice Teaching teaches students the skills of critical thinking, debate, and reasoned discussion while they learn about constitutional rights. Hogan explained that understanding each protected right is important because students may not comprehend why certain rights matter on a personal level. For example, he said, in one lesson plan titled “The Invaders,” students consider 10 fundamental constitutional rights and decide which five to retain if forced to choose among them.

While most students were aware of, and quick to preserve, their rights to freedom of religion and speech, other rights, such as that to counsel and a jury trial were not routinely selected because they are ordinarily not implicated in the daily lives of Florida youth, Hogan said.

Judge Cole said the purpose of such Justice Teaching lesson plans demonstrates to students that each of our constitutional rights is intertwined with others, and, by relinquishing one right, all are endangered.

Justice Teaching further encourages students to engage in civil discourse while maintaining respect for differing views. One exercise asks students to consider the following statement: “I am willing to give up some of my constitutional rights in order to be safer.”

Students who agree with the statement are asked to listen to the views of those students who do not agree, and vice versa. While performing this exercise at Alfred I. Dupont Middle School, where she is a Justice Teaching volunteer, Judge Cole discovered that some students were from countries that had experienced prolonged political turmoil.

One student said: “I would rather trust my rights to keep me safe than the word of any one man.”

Another stated: “Anyone who would promise you safety at the cost of your rights cannot be trusted to keep you safe.”

Both Judge Cole and Hogan have found the students they have worked with to be “bright, innovative, and engaged.”

Judge Cole has also said the attorneys and judges who participate in Justice Teaching speak with “great pride” about their assigned schools.

Justice Teaching also affords students the opportunity to learn that attorneys and judges are real people — as opposed to how they are portrayed in television and film. Judge Cole admitted that, prior to law school, she had never met an attorney or a judge. She believes that by meeting legal professionals through Justice Teaching, students who might not have otherwise considered a future in law will say “since they are just normal people, maybe this is something that I can do.”

Hogan said it was a visit by a judge to his high school civics class in St. Augustine that motivated him to attend law school.

To learn more about Justice Teaching, visit www.justiceteaching.org.

News in Photos