News & Announcements

Fourth Circuit Engages Students in Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions Program

May 22, 2023

On March 29, 2023, 40 students from two Richmond, Virginia, high schools traveled to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to participate in the court’s first Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions program. Civil Discourse is a national initiative of the federal courts that brings high school and college students into federal courthouses for simulated legal proceedings based on situations in which law-abiding young people may find themselves.

During the three-hour program, students from Thomas Jefferson High School and James River High School honed their tools for civil discourse and decision making, gained exposure to careers in the courts, and interacted with the human face of the justice system, including law clerks and other court professionals.
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"It was a fun interactive experience that gives you a better understanding of the court process,” said one senior. Another student plans to practice “respecting opposite opinions and being able to politely disagree” after participating in the program.

Civil Discourse 2023The students also interacted with Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory, who presided over the court hearing and spoke to the students about situations the students may not realize can have legal and long-term consequences. “Civil discourse is a valuable art form that respectfully engages in the appropriation of one's thoughts while appreciating those of others,” said Gregory.

Judges who would like to preside over a Civil Discourse program, attorneys who would like to serve as volunteer coaches, and teachers who would like to partner with the Fourth Circuit to bring this program to schools in their area in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia can contact the Courts4Civics committee at