Judges Head Back to Class to Help Students Learn About Law

"How can you hope to
function in our society ....
if you don't learn civics?"
Judge Pamila J. Brown, Howard County
District Court; Chair,
Public Awareness Committee

Several judges went back to class this past school year to share their expertise and personal experiences to help area students learn about law and society. The judges were taking part in a new program called the Civics and Law Academy, which gives students a chance to meet face-to-face with judges and other legal professionals and learn from their unique perspective on the importance of becoming active participants in our democracy.

Chief Judge Robert M. Bell talks to students
Chief Judge Robert M. Bell talks
to students at a Civics and Law
Academy event.

The Civics and Law Academy is designed to help high school students gain a better understanding of the law, which helps them develop civic competency. Some of the topics include juvenile rights, criminal law, free speech, and the law in the age of technology.

“An understanding of law and legal issues is essential to understanding the functioning of politics, culture, and society,” said Howard County District Judge Pamila J. Brown. Judge Brown heads the Judiciary’s Public Awareness Committee, which hosts the program with the Maryland State Bar Association, the Citizenship Law-Related Education Program (CLREP) and the American Bar Association. “How can you hope to function in our society, which is based on the Rule of Law, if you don’t learn civics? The Academy provides a chance for young people to take part in an intensive program to start to gain the knowledge, skills, and values needed to participate fully and effectively in our pluralistic, democratic society.”

Students share lunch and opinions
Students share lunch and opinions.

Three sessions were held this year: the first in October in Baltimore County for students from Chesapeake, Dundalk, Patapsco, and Kenwood high schools; the second in January in Prince George’s County with students from Surrattsville, Potomac and Central high schools; and the third in March in Frederick County with students from Oakdale, Linganore, Middletown, Frederick, Tuscarora, and Urbana high schools.

Schools who are interested in the program and judges who want to volunteer to take part in the program during the next school year should contact Judge Brown, Pamila.Brown@mdcourts.gov.