Colorado Judges Teach Civics to the Public

In a society where only 26 percent of adults can name all three branches of the federal government and a third cannot even name one, Colorado's judicial branch has sought to improve its citizens’ civics knowledge through Our Courts Colorado. The nonpartisan program provides civics education presentations in both English and Spanish for adults in their communities across the state, many given by state and federal judges.

Consistent with its purpose, Our Courts presentations and volunteer speakers take no position regarding any court case, legislation, ballot issue, or proposed change to the court system. Rather, the presentations cover topics on court processes and how courts affect the lives of average citizens. Other topics covered include the Rule of Law, separation of powers, judicial impartiality, bankruptcy, and jury service.

As United States District Court Judge Kristin Mix explains about those who participate, “They come to understand how hard we try to get it right and how much their involvement in the system is necessary.”

The partnership, which is in its tenth year, was started by the Colorado Judicial Institute and the Colorado Bar Association, and has grown to include IAALS and many other organizations. Over the years, program volunteers have given 550 presentations, reaching more than 14,000 people across the state. Similar programs have popped up in the Second, Third, and Ninth Circuits with more programs in development across the country.

Heather Buchanan is a second-year law student at the University of Colorado Law School and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to iaals@du.edu.