Just Law

Just Law poster

Teaching 6th through 9th grade students about the law

Just Law is a program to educate 6th through 9th grade students about the U.S. legal system. It is a collaborative effort to help middle school students and high school freshmen 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.

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.

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.

Students who attend a participating school, and who take part in the presentation and discussion with one of the visiting judges, will have a chance to write a short essay that can help them win prizes and a chance to learn even more about the court system and how it operates.

JUST LAW Essay Contest

After the presentation, students in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grades will be asked to write a 250 word essay on the topic, “What justice means to me…”

All students who submit a thoughtful and well-written essay will receive a gift pack from the Just Law program.

Essays will be judged by a committee. The top 12 essay winners will be announced on WDKX.

Essay winners will also be recognized at the Monroe County Hall of Justice in spring 2020 and will have an opportunity to present their writings to a group of judges, court staff, service providers and their family members.

In addition, the 12 winners will be eligible to receive lots of great prizes!

Winners will also have opportunities to be mentored by members of the Rochester Black Bar Association and court leaders.  This provides students with the opportunity to learn more about the types of careers that are available in the legal field.

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) 428-6588 in the Mayor's Office of Constituent Services, or email: Liliana.Ruiz@cityofrochester.gov.

This program is brought to you by the City of Rochester, the 7th Judicial District of the New York State Unified Court System,  103.9 FM WDKX, the Rochester Black Bar Association, and the Rochester City School District