State and national surveys frequently document how little Americans know about our government, the justice system and the basic principles underlying our constitutional institutions and design.
Immediately upon his appointment to the Florida Supreme Court, R. Fred Lewis began visiting schools and presenting lessons all across Florida with Annette Boyd Pitts to teach students about the courts and the Constitution. After visiting hundreds of schools, he recognized the need for other judges and attorneys to be involved in this structured, yet engaging model. When he became Chief Justice in 2006, Justice Teaching was created. This major effort was galvanized to further law-focused, civic education in the State of Florida. The ultimate goal of this program is to create effective partnerships between the legal, judicial, and education communities. Judges and attorney volunteers are partnered with elementary, middle, and high schools, and provided with model instructional resources aligned with our state standards in civics and government.
The program aims to improve understanding of the justice system and our laws and legal processes; recognize the unique role of the judicial branch in our constitutional design; strengthen critical thinking and problem solving skills; and demonstrate a human side to justice. Volunteers receive instructional resources and training to effectively engage with students and teachers. Justice Teaching is governed by a Select Committee consisting of judges from Florida’s five appellate districts and twenty judicial circuits. Select Committee membership also includes representatives of legal and educational communities.
Upon his retirement from the Supreme Court of Florida in 2019, Lewis relocated the program to Florida Southern College. The Justice Teaching Center for Civic Learning will continue its partnerships between the legal and education communities to advance law-focused civic learning.
New initiatives will supplement the core program including classroom simulations and academic competitions.
This website will provide access to the instructional resources and training needed for effective partnerships. We are here to help you and listen to your feedback on how to improve the partnerships.
Fred Lewis now serves as the Eminent Professor of Law and Letters at Florida Southern College. He attended Florida Southern during his undergraduate years. He continues to lead these efforts and visit schools regularly.
Our director is Annette Boyd Pitts. She is a nationally recognized leader in the field of law-focused civic learning. She is the recipient of the National Improvements in Justice Award, the American Bar Association Isidore Starr Award for Excellence in Law-Related Education, and the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civic Education, among others. She serves on The Florida Bar Law Related Education Committee and the Constitutional Judiciary Committee. She is the Co-chair of the Judicial Education and Academic Network Committee for the National Association of Women Judges.
For further information or to learn how to partner with a school or legal professional, contact us.
Director of Justice Teaching Center for Civic Learning
Eminent Professor of Law and Letters,
Justice Supreme Court of Florida (retired)