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Spokane Educators Gather for 10th Annual Teachers Institute

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington recently held its 10th annual Judicial Institute for High School and Middle School Teachers.

Educators working in counties east of the Cascades attended.


Held November 8-9, 2017, in Spokane, the institute was the result of tried and true programming and teacher feedback. First developed in 2008 by District

Judge Robert Whaley and Ninth Circuit Judge Richard Tallman, the institute transitioned with District Judge Stanley Bastian at the helm.


As an interactive program, the fall course included attendance at actual hearings and discussions of judicial review and philosophies, the Constitution and constitututional amendments, and participation in sentencing scenarios. Participants interacted with attorneys and both trial and appellate judges.


Judge Tallman presented the “Role of the Judiciary in ‘Interpreting’ the Law,” focusing on how the judiciary’s power to say what the law has contributed to our form of government. The presentation examined constitutional law cases, in particular the Commerce Clause, criminal procedure, and how the law applies in the school context, such as through equal protection and affirmative action.


The institute featured a unique role playing exercise between Magistrate Judge John Rodgers and a police officer seeking a warrant. The exchange brought a behind the scenes court scenario into the open for teachers and led to a great discussion on privacy issues and court administrative procedures with Magistrate Judge Mary Dimke of the Eastern District of Washington.


At the “You Be the Judge” sentencing scenarios, participants were asked to play the part of the judge for a sentencing proceeding. The participants met each defendant through a video presentation, and using accompanying materials, the participants reviewed and determined the appropriate sentence for each defendant. The scenarios included possession of a firearm, child pornography and marijuana to tribal crimes.


The program also included information about undocumented immigrants, civil rights, federal court civil litigation and the role of the judiciary. Since the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office is located in the courthouse, there was an emphasis on immigration matters, which included observing a naturalization ceremony led by Judge Tallman and a discussion with immigration lawyer Tom Roach.


The Eastern District uses about $7,000 per year in non-appropriated funds to suppport the institutes, which accommodate 22 to 25 teachers. The funds cover continental breakfasts and lunches, a welcoming reception and dinner, and travel/lodging expenses for the teachers.


Chief Deputy Clerk Leslie Downey and Court Operations Specialist Laura Barragan were in charge of the agenda and logistics with strong IT support. Please visit the link http://www.waed.uscourts.gov/Judicial-Institute-for-Teachers-2017/ for more information.

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