Today, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois welcomed high school students from Legal Prep Charter Academy in Chicago for the Sixth Annual William J. Hibbler Schoolhouse to Courthouse Program.
Legal Prep is a Chicago Public School, founded in 2012, that uses a law-themed curriculum to prepare students for colleges and universities. The Chicago Chapter sponsors the program to promote: (1) firsthand contact between adolescents with lawyers and judges, (2) knowledge of the law and the courts, and (3) our chapter’s long range membership and Young Lawyers Division recruitment plan.
This year’s program featured:
- A mock sentencing hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge M. David Weisman
- District Judges Rubén Castillo, Gary Feinerman, Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, and Andrea Wood shared reflections on their own backgrounds, court history, and the justice system. They also answered students’ questions on topics ranging from jury duty to overcoming obstacles in life
- Chief Judge Castillo remarked on growing-up on Chicago’s West Side where he knew no judges or lawyers, and on what judges are really like: “If there’s anything I want you take away from your visit to the courthouse today, it is that judges are regular people.” Judge Castillo explained that while attending undergraduate school, he worked nights in bond court at the Circuit Court of Cook County at 26th and California. Before that, he’d never met a judge. There he met many, inspiring him to one day become a lawyer, and then a judge himself. Judge Castillo urged students to have confidence in themselves and “not let others define what you can and cannot do in life.”
- Lunch with judges and chapter members at the Chicago Bar Association Building. Lunch also featured the perennial favorite keynote address by retired Magistrate Judge and United States Marine Arlander Keys (featured image above), recounting his path through the Jim Crow south, two tours in South Vietnam, practice as a lawyer, and service on the bench, to post-retirement practice as a private mediator