Attorney Valerie Wicks Participates in the Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions Program

On Thursday, November 14, 2019, the District of Maine welcomed young women from the Long Creek Youth Development Center into the Edward T. Gignoux Courthouse to participate in the Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions Program in Portland. The students debated the scope of the First Amendment in the context of online bullying through a simulated oral argument and jury deliberation before Chief Judge Jon D. Levy. The program gave the students, who have experienced the juvenile justice system firsthand, an opportunity to share their unique perspective on important issues that affect their lives, and to envision themselves as advocates and jurors. The students also engaged in a discussion with volunteer lawyers of what civil discourse means and why it is so important, both in our personal lives and in the operation of our democracy. Their teacher described the program this way: “The girls really enjoyed the experience and it was really empowering for them to be in the role of an attorney and get a different perspective on the court system. I think it will be a day that they remember for a long time.” Volunteer Attorneys Karen Frink Wolf, Zach Heiden, and Valerie Wicks participated in the program and guided the students through the process.