Updated: Nov 6, 2019
The start of a new year is a time for looking ahead. But it never hurts to remember where we have been.
Our committee was first established in late 2000 as the Public Information and Community Outreach Committee and quickly became known by the acronym, PICO. The brain child of outgoing Chief Judge Procter Hug, Jr., and incoming Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder, it was the first circuit-level committee dedicated solely to improving public understanding of and confidence in the federal courts.
Circuit, district, magistrate and bankruptcy judges, district and bankruptcy court clerks, attorneys and journalists serve on the committee.
The committee has organized educational conferences and workshops to inform
journalists about the law and legal processes and procedures. They also allowed judges
and journalists to interact in an informal setting outside the courtroom. This work tailed off during the Great Recession but was renewed last year with a program in Los Angeles.
In the area of community outreach, the committee determined that it could best make a contribution by gathering information about the events, programs and activities being undertaken by the district and bankruptcy courts of the circuit. The idea was to recognize successful programs in this newsletter and on our Internet website, which was recently redesigned.
In 2012, we became know as the Courts and Community Committee to reflect a greater emphasis on community outreach. In 2014, we began the Ninth Circuit Civics Contest, an essay and video contest for high school students now in its fifth year. In 2018, the committee will conduct the contest in collaboration with the Federal Judges Association and Federal Bar Association.
In the coming years, the committee will be working hard to support Chief Judge Thomas’ vision of a “circuit approach” to civics education. We expect The Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Library and Learning Center in Sacramento to become the linchpin of these efforts.
Here in the Ninth Circuit, there is a great history of support for civics education and a very bright future. Happy New Year to all of you!