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Delaware Docket Newsletter
Fall 2012

Democracy Project Teachers Visit with the Chief Justice and the Judiciary

"A visit to the Judiciary is an important part of our program and we always try and include it," commented Ed Freel, Delaware's former Secretary of State and current chair of the Democracy Project. "Teachers are so pleased to meet and discuss important issues with judges. We are very appreciative of the fact that the judges give generously of their time to talk to the teachers and provide them with a unique insight into the workings of the Judiciary."

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) facilitated a visit of 13 Delaware civic teachers enrolled in the University of Delaware's Democracy Project Institute for Teachers to the Delaware Supreme Court in Dover and the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington. The Democracy Project mission is to promote "civic engagement and a better understanding of citizen responsibilities in a democratic society among young people," by providing civic teachers with resources and education-based services and programs. The nine-day Institute for Teachers program includes field trips to civic institutions, visits with civic leaders, and developing lesson plans based on the Democracy Project's core values aligned with the Delaware Civics Standards.

Chief Justice Myron T. Steele met with the teachers on June 19, 2012 when the group visited the Supreme Court in Dover. The Chief Justice explained his role as the head of the Judicial Branch, provided a general overview of the judiciary and a specific explanation of the kinds of cases heard by the Supreme Court, and answered questions. On June 21, 2012, the group visited the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington and sat down for a brown bag lunch with Superior Court Judge Mary M. Johnston and Family Court Judge William L. Chapman. Each judge provided an overview of their court and answered the group's questions. "For many teachers, this is the first time that they have had the opportunity to meet and talk with a judge, find out what judges do, and realize that judges are people," noted Ed Freel. "The teachers always have numerous questions regarding the legal process and, being teachers, what the legal process means when one of their students is affected by it. The judges explain to them the whole process from beginning to end, how cases are handled, and the process they go through. The teachers really enjoy having the judges talk to them and learn about that side of government."

This is the 6th year that the Courts have hosted visits by the Democracy Project. More information on the Democracy Project can be found at http://www.ipa.udel.edu/democracy/.