FBA Virtual Civil Discourse Program, April 8-9, 2021
On April 8 and 9, 2021, Middle District of Florida Judge Virginia Covington, Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge Anne-Leigh Moe, and federal practitioners from the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, Mindi Richter, David Wright and Ellen Lyons presented the United States Courts’ Program, Civil Discourse and Difficult Conversations, to two classes of high School students at Plant High School in Tampa, Florida. The judges and attorney volunteers first spoke about what led to their careers in the law, and gave the students, who are taking a high school Constitutional Law class, career and practical advice. The second day of the program, 8 students from each class acted in the roles of counsel for the United States or counsel for an accused defendant in an oral argument that tracks the facts of Elonis v. the United States. The students faced a hot bench and responded really well to tough questions.
The two-day program took place over Zoom. The format made it easy to break the program into two segments that each fit inside one class period. We received many thanks from the students and the following thank you note from Constitutional Law teacher Ms. Tamara Phillips:
“This program, that Ellen arranged, was meaningful and productive for the students and me. I sincerely appreciate each person that engaged my students. Each of you were kind and relatable, you may never know the impact that your words leave on a student, but I can tell you that the students gave positive feedback and expressed appreciation for the program and specifically hearing from each of you. All of you mentioned topics that we’ve studied in class, and it was good for my students to hear real-life connections to topics they’ve only heard in a lecture or read in a textbook. I acknowledge how busy you all must be, so my students and I are grateful for the time you carved out for us and this positive learning opportunity. I look forward to future presentations, perhaps in person. ”
The Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association is grateful for the time of Judge Covington, Judge Moe, Ms. Richter, Mr. Wright and Ms. Lyons. We look forward to resuming in person mock oral arguments in the next school year.