Just Law

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Teaching middle school students about the law

Just Law is a program to educate middle school students about the U.S. legal system. It is a collaborative effort to help middle school students in the Rochester City School District better understand the law and our country’s legal system.

The program explores the following topics: 

  • The concept of legal literacy;
  • The importance of school attendance;
  • The value of developing strong writing skills;
  • The significance of the written word in the court system;
  • Ways to express concerns, questions, desires and expectations relating to the court system;
  • An overview of the U.S. Judicial System;
  • Career opportunities within the courts.


J.U.S.T. stands for Justice, Understanding, and Societal Trust, and is a community outreach program initiated by N.Y. Supreme Court Justice Craig Doran, the administrative judge in the 7th Judicial District.

Judges will visit participating schools in the RCSD, where they will explain how the justice system works, as well as the role it plays in the Rochester community. Students will then have an opportunity to share their own perspectives on - - and experiences with - - the justice system.


L.A.W. stands for Literacy, Attendance, and Writing. 

This component of the program was initiated by Andre Langston, owner and general manager of radio station WDKX, and uses these three concepts to help improve student understanding of the court system.

The goal is for participating youth to develop research and analysis skills, gain a better understanding of the power of the written word and acquire a deeper appreciation for the value of education. School attendance will also be emphasized.

JUST LAW Essay Contest

After the presentation, students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades will be asked to write a 250 word essay on the topic, “Justice means to me…”

Every student who submits a thoughtful and well-written essay will receive a ticket to the 2018 WDKX Step Jam, to be held on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Blue Cross Arena.

Essays will be judged by a committee. The top 12 essay winners will be announced and honored on stage at the Step Jam.

Essay winners will also be recognized at the Monroe County Hall of Justice in spring 2019 and will have an opportunity to present their writings to a panel of judges, court staff and service providers.

Prizes for the winners include an iPad or Nook, gift cards, cash, certificates and more.

Winners will also have opportunities to be mentored by members of the Rochester Black Bar Association and court leaders.

The Power of 12

The rationale for selecting 12 winners is based on the concept of the “Power of 12” - - the 12 individuals who make up a jury and who have the power to decide whether a person is guilty or not guilty. Jurors play an extremely important role in a trial, so it is important that youth understand the importance of jury participation and selection.

Learn more

View photos of Just Law in the schools here.

If you would like to learn more, contact Liliana Ruiz at (585) 428-7045 in the Mayor's Office of Constituent Services, or email: Liliana.Ruiz@cityofrochester.gov.

Collaborating partners include the City of Rochester, 103.9 FM WDKX, the Rochester Black Bar Association, the Rochester City School District, and the 7th Judicial District.