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Civil Discourse Program

United States District Court

District of Maine

Civil Discourse Program


The judges and staff of Maine’s Federal court are excited to offer Maine high school students the opportunity to experience the critical roles that the justice system and each citizen play in dispensing justice and maintaining a vibrant democracy by attending one of our Civil Discourse Programs.

Federal courts across the country are implementing this in-person program to help foster high school students’ understanding of the importance of civic engagement, the justice system, and critical thinking skills.  Students who have participated in this program have given uniformly positive evaluations. 

The program is a 2.5-hour, real-life simulation presided over by a federal judge and coached by volunteer attorneys.  Students will learn about and practice civil discourse skills while acting as student attorneys and/or jurors in a federal courtroom.  The judge and attorneys will discuss a factual scenario that presents the question of whether a college student’s social media post, which contains language that could be construed as threatening, is speech protected by the First Amendment.  Students will be guided by our volunteer attorneys in how to analyze the facts and frame legal arguments.  The program culminates with each student actively participating in a simulated, hybrid version of a criminal hearing.

A minimum of 25 and a maximum of 35 students may participate in a session. The program will be scheduled on a weekday from 9:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.  The court will provide the program and faculty.  The program requires little advance preparation by the teachers and students.

Please forward this information to any administrators or teachers whom you think might be interested.  For more information or to make arrangements to participate, please contact:

Lindsey R. Tully

(207) 780 - 5114