Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions

This activity gives participants experience with civil discourse skills and complex decision making.


Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions is a national initiative of the federal courts that brings high school and college students into federal courthouses for legal proceedings that stem from situations in which law-abiding young people can find themselves. These court hearings (not mock trials) are realistic simulations. In some cases, all students serve as jurors who listen to the student attorneys’ arguments, then actively deliberate in the courtroom. Students are jurors in Elonis v. U.S. and New Jersey v. TLO. In other cases, all students serve as judges who ask questions of the student attorneys, then have a case conference to come to a decision. Students are judges in Tinker v. Des Moines.



Courtroom Simulations for High School and College Students

Roles & Resources

Learning Objectives

Time Commitment

What Happens

Click on the button below for access all the resources and downloads you will need to get started...

What’s Different About This Activity?


The centerpiece is jury deliberations in which students practice the civil discourse skills they observe and learn from the judge and attorneys in a courtroom. The activity is different from a mock trial in the following ways:

  • The Courtroom Experience is a Realistic Hearing on a Timely Issue

  • The Focus is on Jury Deliberations Involving All Students and Learning Styles

  • Students Observe, Learn, Practice Civil Discourse Skills with a Judge and Lawyers

  • Participants Analyze Everyday Decisions That Could Have Long-Term Consequences

  • Students Have a Candid Conversation with a Judge on Any Topic of Concern

Sign up for more information

© 2021 FBA South Florida Chapter

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon