Category: News

Discovering Justice’s Online Gala Honoring Dr. Joshua Boger

COVID-19 did not cancel our annual Gala – we just moved it to October 15 and moved it online. 

Click HERE to attend our Fall 2020 Gala to have the chance to listen and talk about justice online! Gather and participate in a virtual classroom with Discovering Justice staff, board, supporters, and judicial leaders across the Commonwealth. 

Buy a ticket and receive fun gifts to use during the event.

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Photo/Reba Saldanha  June 17, 2020

Discovering Justice Goes to Summer Camp

What do you do when you are unable to run your summer leadership camps in person? You call Discovering Justice to develop a program to help your campers learn about the legal system and discuss the ideals of justice with legal experts and community leaders.

This summer, Discovering Justice partnered with Crossroads and Camp Harbor View to deliver Discovering Justice in a Pandemic, a program for 8th, 9th, and 11th grade students to explore the balance between individual rights and collective responsibility. Using COVID-19 as a case study. Discovering Justice engaged 200 student campers in the Boston area over the course of July and August. The program provided students with multiple perspectives from guest speakers such as Discovering Justice Board Member Carmen Ortiz from Anderson & Krieger, Gary Katzman, a judge from the U.S. Court of International Trade, Jenny Fernandez from the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. Cassandra Pierre a doctor from the Boston Medical Center and public health students from Boston University School of Public Health.

Discovering Justice in a Pandemic provided an opportunity for Discovering Justice to partner with other nonprofits and schools over the coming year about how the legal system provides a vehicle for social change. The organization is exploring sessions on Law and Sports, Law and Social Movements (civil rights, womens’ rights, environmental rights), and America as a protest nation. The program aims to remain topical so students stay informed, educated, and prepared to lead in the face of real issues facing the community.

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Photo/Reba Saldanha  June 17, 2020

Mock Trial Program Moves Online with New Updated Cases

With many students across the Commonwealth learning remotely this fall, Discovering Justice is making sure students have access to this 20-year old program by building an online platform. The revisions to the program will ensure that the unique relationships between our legal partners and our students are preserved and that students learn the civic skills necessary to engage in civic activity.

Senior Education Associate Luke Matys worked with lawyers from Liberty Mutual and WilmerHale to create two new Mock Trial cases. The new cases bring students’ First Amendment rights to the forefront. The Liberty Mutual team consisting of Xena Robinson, Cameron Panepinto, and Jackie Doherty helped build a fact pattern that explores the intersection of free speech and cyberbullying. Led by David Rollins-Boyd, Jamie Haddad, and Drew Fosque, the WilmerHale team created a case investigating the tension of a school newspaper’s desire to uncover a groundbreaking scandal, and a school administration’s desire to protect the privacy of their underaged students. Discovering Justice will introduce these cases this Fall for middle school students across the Commonwealth. 

 The Mock Trial Program is open to students in grades 6-8 and attorneys interested in becoming legal mentors. If your law office or school is interested in participating in the after school mock trial program, please contact the program’s coordinator, Luke Matys, at lmatys@discoveringjustice.org.

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Mini Mock Trials Coming to Local Elementary Schools

Responding to the need for online civic education programs for elementary students in the coming school year, Discovering Justice has created virtual mini-mock trial units for schools to be piloted in Lowell and Boston this fall. 

The units will be showcased at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Civic Literacy Conference Civic Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions: Building Student Capacity for Civic Engagement which will take place virtually on the evenings of September 23rd and 24th. 

Education Program Director Laura Brenner is working with teachers in Lowell and Boston to develop the curriculum. The units incorporate videos with legal experts, such as state judges Gabrielle Wolohojian and Diana Maldonado to enhance students’ real world connections to the units of study, as well as give elementary school students exposure to possible career paths.

 These interviews, which also include discussions with Linda Walsh (Official Court Reporter at the U.S. Moakley Courthouse), and Jean Shirley (Records and Argument Specialist at the John Adams Courthouse) will deepen students’ understanding of the workings of the judicial system and the many roles within it. 

In this clip, Judge Wolohojian explains to students what happens when there are disagreements and the importance of having discussions with each other.

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Superheroes Among Us

Tapping into the optimism and enthusiasm of students across the Commonwealth, Discovering Justice’s Civic Superhero contest generated more than 100 entries highlighting how youth are engaging in civic education. Students submitted videos and projects which showed their work sewing and donating masks, art projects honoring frontline workers, videos protesting racial injustice, and letters to senators opposing voter suppression in the pandemic.

Check out our social media accounts to see a sample of the submissions.
Mr. William Ruzzo, History teacher at Boston Latin School who engaged his students in the project remarked, “The contest really helped [the History/Civics teachers] cap off the year in a very powerful and meaningful way. The work has already started to have a ripple effect that will lead to positive change for decades to come. [Discovering Justice] has planted the seeds of change that are sustainable.”

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Working for Justice: A Letter to the Discovering Justice

For twenty years, Discovering justice has worked with lawyers, judges, teachers, and parents in civic education to teach thousands of students and others about the workings and dispositions of the American justice system.

It is abundantly clear to all of us that this justice system does not work for everyone. 

We recognize the disturbing realities of the nation’s unjust policies, police brutality, and a legal system that has embraced draconian mandatory minimum and lengthy prison sentences for non-violent offenses, resulting in imprisoning Black people at a rate five times greater than whites. 

We recognize that Black people carry a grossly disproportionate burden of this flawed system. The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others have only made it more painful, and have highlighted for the world that systemic racism, brutality, and social injustice persist in our nation and neighborhoods. 

We need a justice system that provides fairness and dignity for all. 

We all need to do better. Discovering Justice is upgrading and adding to its civic education programs to do a better job at exploring the values and concepts of justice and how it plays out under the Constitution. We are working with our partners to make sure our programs help students identify and highlight where the system needs attention and improvement. And we are developing opportunities to better engage students to use their voices and be powerful advocates for change. 

We applaud the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have brought their frustration and voices to the streets demanding that our political leaders take action to address these systemic problems that have plagued our country for hundreds of years. Our nation was founded and continues to better itself, catalyzed by those who speak up for change and work to hold their government and their leaders accountable.

We must have faith in and invest in our youth. New leadership and the passionate and talented staff at Discovering Justice are dedicated to doubling down on our work to provide students with the skills and opportunities to develop into future leaders.

The Board and Staff of Discovering Justice

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Discovering Justice with Judge Wolohojian and Special Guests

As schools have closed and learning has moved online, parents and classroom teachers are facing challenges as they adapt to remote learning. We are all working to create new and creative opportunities to engage our students.

Judge Gabrielle Wolohojian and a number of special guests including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey worked with Discovering Justice to develop and deliver an innovative online mock trial unit.
Over the course of 5-6 online sessions, students ranging from 8-11 years old prepared to engage in a mock trial concerning an Indigenous tribe and a museum and the rightful ownership of tribal artifacts displayed in an exhibit at the museum. Students analyzed evidence, used evidence to build an argument, discussed themes of justice and civic duty, and presented their cases to the Judge.
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Students as Superheroes

  • Who is a superhero?
  • Someone who stands up for themselves and their community?
  • Someone who fights the good fight?
  • Someone who works for justice?

At Discovering Justice, we know that students are superheroes when they engage in issues in their communities.

 During a time when COVID-19 has thrown students off of their regular routines, and people across America are rallying against injustice, Discovering Justice has provided an opportunity for them to stand up and stand out.

Discovering Justice’s Civics Superhero Contest asked students to get active and create a project that works for justice and/or supports others during COVID-19. We have received more than 100 submissions. Award winners will be announced July 1 and will be featured on Discovering Justice’s website and social media.

Click here to see a sample of the submissions.

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Discovering Justice in a Pandemic

America’s legal system often provides a framework and guidelines on how we address issues that impact our communities. From civil rights and environmental concerns to individual freedoms and the rights of corporations, the legal system can help us address issues that impact us all.

This summer, we are piloting Discovering Justice’s Topics Program, to help students better understand and explore the legal system and how it is addressing real issues impacting our communities.
The first course in our Topics Program, Discovering Justice in a Pandemic, will create a space for students to wrestle with the tensions inherent in how society is responding to COVID-19. Lawyers, community health officials, judges, and community activists will lead classes for students to talk about the need to protect personal liberties and the need for communities to set limits in order to protect public health. The program will culminate in a student-led roundtable discussion in which students will present and discuss what they’ve learned and created throughout the sessions.
We will be working with students and counselors at Camp Harborview and Crossroads, two nonprofits that run student leadership programs throughout the year.
Moving into the fall, Discovering Justice is considering developing courses on the Civil Rights Movement, the United States as a Protest Nation, the Environmental Movement, and the Workers’ Rights Movement.
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Educational Resources on Race and Inequality

Discovering Justice’s Education Director Laura Brenner compiled this list of resources to support learning and facilitate conversations around race and racism in America.

Books For Students

 

Books by Black authors to for Adults:

General:

 

 

 

Specifically for Educators:

 

*Please consider purchasing these titles and others from Frugal Bookstore, a Black-owned community bookstore in Boston that DJ tries to support whenever possible.

 

Articles

 

Video

Specifically for Educators:

 

Podcasts

 

Netflix Series

 

Amazon Prime

 

HBO

 

Social Media Accounts:

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