May 17, 2022(San Juan, PR): The United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico held its first Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions Workshop for high school students. The workshop, held on April 22, 2022 at the Clemente Ruiz Nazario U.S. Courthouse in Hato Rey, was a collaboration between district and magistrate judges, high school professors, members of the bar and twenty high school students from Academia del Perpetuo Socorro in Miramar.
The workshop began by getting students to think about civility and ways to improve civil and effective communication both in everyday life and in Court. The students were presented with a fictional scenario to tackle arguments on the right to free speech, social media, and potential criminal conduct. With the help of six attorney coaches, the students had an opportunity to experience legal proceedings and to put into practice civility skills by presenting arguments to the Court. A discussion on the role of the jury was followed by deliberations by all students. The program closed with a discussion on difficult decision-making and legal consequences of certain real-life scenarios. The students reported to have learned and enjoyed this unique experience in Court. The Court is enthusiastic about continuing this outreach initiative and grateful for the valuable collaboration of our six attorney coaches.
Magistrate Judge Giselle López-Soler served as the workshop’s moderator, while Chief Judge Raúl Arias-Marxuach served as judge. Additional collaborators for this first Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions workshop included Ms. Carmen Trelles-Hernández and Ms. Raysa Vaquer, professors of Journalism and U.S. Government at Academia del Perpetuo Socorro, as well as bar members María Dolores Trelles-Hernández, Moraima Ríos-Robles, Vivian Marrero, Henry O. Freese-Souffront, Mario Arroyo-Dávila and Jonathan L. Gottfried.