Recently, I was honored to speak with Judge Michael J. Newman, who is a magistrate judge in the southern district of Ohio. Immediately upon speaking with Judge Newman, I felt the passion and love for his work and was inspired by how thankful he is to have the opportunity to do such powerful service. Newman is currently the national president of the Federal Bar Association, and this month they’re launching an initiative that focuses on inspiring students across the country to get involved in civics.
During our phone call, I was able to get down to the core of Judge Newman’s work, and what he and the FBA (Federal Bar Association) hope to accomplish with their campaign, The National Community Outreach Project.
How The Federal Bar Association Strives To Improve The Court System
1.) Interacting with students
Newman explained that The National Community Outreach Project encourages Federal Judges from all over the country to go into schools and classrooms and meet with students. The FBA is working with K-12 students in their classrooms and also inviting the students into the courtrooms so they can see what it’s like to debate on a federal level. The goal here is to generate interest and excitement about the courts so that the students will want to become more educated on how the court systems work.
2.) What does justice look like?
The FBA is also launching an essay writing contest that asks, “What does an impartial judicial system mean to me?” The winner will receive $2,000 and a trip to Washington D.C., with an invitation to attend the FBA’s Mid-Year Meeting. The FBA plans to make this an annual contest. You can find more information to prepare for next year’s contest here.
“I’m very concerned with access to justice. It’s something I think about every day. As president of the Federal Bar Association, we’re talking about how do we increase access to justice to people who don’t have lawyers. We believe that everyone should have access to justice and it’s something that we’re very mindful of.” – Judge Michael Newman
3.) Celebrating teachers, education and the next generation of judges and lawyers
Newman and the FBA recognize that the future of the court system in America boils down to education. Having a healthy civics program in schools is close to the heart for Newman and the FBA. This year the FBA will be celebrating teachers who teach civics, as they believe that teachers should be celebrated the same way we celebrate our athletes.
For more information on the Federal Bar Association and their work, check out The National Community Outreach Project.
I also got to ask Judge Michael Newman a few other questions about how we can all do a better job getting involved in civics.
Jeff: What are some small things the average person can do to learn more about the judicial system?
Judge Newman: Well, if you’re a parent, go to fedbar.org and look at the Civics page and check out the resources to become more educated on how the court systems work. You can also find the chapters and contact information of lawyers in your area who will actually meet with you to discuss civics and the outreach programs in your area.
Jeff: Michael, it’s clear that you find a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment in your work, which is the goal for all of us. Why did you choose this field of work in the first place?
Judge Newman: Ever since I was a kid I was always preoccupied with fairness. I just loved it. I also loved writing. So I decided to go to law school and I got a clerkship with Judge Sherman, who also became a mentor of mine. After doing that for some time, I then went to a private firm for a number of years, but I still always had this yearning to fight for fairness and to help people.
Jeff: 10 years from now, how will the FBA know it was successful in their mission?
Judge Newman: When a large number of young people from a wide range of communities are inspired and work for the justice systems. I really do hope so. If kids look back, who are graduating law school and say, “that experience with the Federal Bar Association, meeting those judges and visiting the courts really motivated and inspired me to help people through law.” Also, people cherishing their jury service. Jury duty is not something to avoid, but it’s part of your citizenship, that keeps you active and educated in the court systems. Maybe, we’ll get verdicts that are more sound, just and fair because of their experience with the FBA.
How do you define Everyday Power?
Judge Newman: Looking inside to see what makes you happy. Each one of us has an individual gift and we need to be true to what our gift is. And, if you are, you will be a happier person and you will do great work in the world. And, that’s what I’ve tried to do in my own way.
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