Community Outreach and Education
Community outreach and education are essential to the San Diego Superior Court. By establishing and maintaining strong ties to the community and promoting knowledge and understanding about our judicial system, the court is better able to fulfill its mission of administering justice in a way that is both accessible and understandable to the public.
Our outreach and educational programs are designed to inform and educate the public about the workings of the court and the judicial branch of government in California. Currently available educational programs are listed below.
The Courthouse Tour Program currently offers both in-person and virtual courthouse tours for students in grades 5 through 12. The tours are an engaging introduction to the justice system, courtroom roles and concepts, and will enhance their knowledge and understanding of the courts.
In-person tours include observations of live court proceedings, a question-and-answer session with a judge (subject to availability), and participation in a mock trial exercise. Additionally, fifth graders also participate in a question-and-answer session with a Deputy Sheriff and view a holding cell. Tour length 2.5 to 3 hours.
Virtual tours are conducted with a live tour guide via Zoom. During the interactive tour, the guide will show points of interest in the downtown central courthouse, discuss the jury process, courtroom roles, and conduct a trial exercise from a courtroom. Additionally, fifth graders also participate in a question-and-answer session with a Deputy Sheriff. Tour length 1.5 hours.
In-person tours are available at the downtown Central Courthouse location only. Supplemental educational materials are provided. For more information or to schedule a tour, please contact the Student Outreach and Education Program Coordinator at (619) 844-2328 or [email protected].
Judges in the Classroom
This Judicial Council of California program matches teachers with judges who have volunteered to visit (remotely or in person) third through 12th grade classrooms to engage the students with lessons on the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, the role of the judicial branch, and related topics. The interactive presentations are an exciting opportunity to bring judicial concepts to life and help enhance students’ understanding of the content in a clear and concise way. The students will analyze and apply legal concepts and use critical thinking skills during the visit. Lesson plans and materials are provided. For more information and to request a presentation, please visit the Judges in the Classroom webpage.
On My Honor
On My Honor is a complete educational experience for elementary and middle school students in which they learn how the justice system works. The program includes a classroom curriculum with four separate lessons, a teacher's guide, lesson plans, and related activities that take place in the schools. After this classroom preparation, the students then visit the court, where they participate in a mock trial presided over by an actual judge, each student playing a role in the courtroom process, as counsel, jury member, court reporter, or defendant.
On My Honor is available at the Vista Courthouse. For information please contact [email protected] or (760) 201-8120.
San Diego County High School Mock Trial Program & Competition
The San Diego County High School Mock Trial Program & Competition is a statewide academic competition in which high school students compete at the county, state, and national level. It places high school students in a simulated courtroom setting where they assume the roles of lawyers and witnesses in a hypothetical case. As part of the program, area lawyers volunteer to serve as coaches and scorers for the competition and Superior and Federal Court Judges, Magistrates and Commissioners preside over the mock trials. The winning team goes on to represent San Diego County at the California Mock Trial Finals.
For additional information or to register, please visit sdmocktrial.org.
Want to learn more about the court? Judges and court staff are available to meet with school groups and community organizations to talk about the role of the court and the challenges and opportunities facing the California justice system.
For more information on community outreach and education programs, speakers, or volunteer opportunities, contact the Community Outreach and Education Program Manager at (619) 844-2322 or [email protected].
Court Clergy Conference
The court presents a day-long program for clergy members with the theme "Building Community Through Justice." We reach out to clergy members of all faiths who are called upon to minister to parishioners in times of legal crises. These troubles could be caused by marital discord, domestic violence, aging, immigration issues, crime, addiction, homelessness or child abuse and neglect. For example, when a parishioner has concerns about a child who has been arrested, or fears an elder is unable to care for him or herself, or has been a victim of domestic violence, the clergy member often has no idea of what to do or what will happen. Our judges speak on these topics throughout the day and lead panel discussions with other experts in the community. Our judges also join the attendees for lunch and encourage dialogue about issues the clergy confront in their congregations. The clergy leave our conference feeling better equipped to assist and support the members of their faith community and also come away with ideas of how they could work together with the courts to improve justice in our community.