Community outreach is critical to the mission of the administration of justice. One of the primary goals of our district’s Public Outreach Committee is to educate young people and the public about the important role that the federal courts, our judges and our lawyers play in preserving the rule of law.
Over the years, the judges of our court have worked to develop strong ties to the community. These connections have been maintained and strengthened by the various community outreach efforts initiated by our judges individually and collectively.
A team of dedicated judges have demonstrated commitment to bringing our judges to the community to have dialogues about subjects including what courts do and why young people should aspire to become lawyers and judges. In this way, it is our goal to increase access to justice for all.
Outreach Impacting the Community
[+] Federal Court Naturalizes Citizens[–] Federal Court Naturalizes Citizens
For further information about the naturalization process see Naturalization.
Constitution Day - September 18, 2017
On September 18, 2017, Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana presided over a special Naturalization Ceremony at Loyola University New Orleans's Roussel Hall to celebrate Constitution Day. Over 250 students from local high schools were in attendance to witness 98 new citizens from more than 40 different countries take the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng delivered an entertaining key note address in which she encouraged the petitioners to become involved in their communities and congratulated them for making the brave decision to come to the United States to benefit not only themselves, but their future generations, as her grandfather did. United States Magistrate Judge Janis van Meerveld delivered an inspiring speech recounting her own Naturalization story. Local attorney José Cot made remarks in Spanish and English to highlight the importance of multi-culturalism in the United States. The Hahnville High School Band and the Archbishop Hannan High School Choir treated the audience to a patriotic music. At the end of the program, the petitioners were gleefully taking photographs with the speakers and the American flag. Students could be heard outside the auditorium congratulating the new citizens on joining the American family. It was a beautiful ceremony celebrating American democracy and citizenship in action.
September 16, 2016
Constitution and Citizenship Day
America's newest citizens took the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony as part of this year's celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, on September 16, 2016. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana was among numerous other federal courts around the country (www.uscourts.gov) which held annual naturalization ceremonies for more than 33,000 new citizens to commemorate the date of September 17, 1787, which was when the Constitutional Convention delegates signed our nation’s founding document. Seventeen petitioners from eleven countries took the Oath of Allegiance at the ceremony held in the Court’s ceremonial courtroom. Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana presided over the ceremony with Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles, III, also of the Eastern District and Joshua O. Hess, of Christovich & Kearney, as the keynote speakers.
As part of the program, Marine JROTC members from Jesuit High School presented the Colors; representatives from three local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and Eureka Arties, of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, beautifully sang the “National Anthem” and “America the Beautiful”.
July 3, 2015
Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Wilkinson Jr. gives the keynote speech at a naturalization ceremony at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on Friday, July 3, 2015. The Times Picayune and WDSU News covered the event.
September 17, 2014
America's newest citizens took the Oath of Allegiance at naturalization ceremonies from New York to Alaska, including in New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of this year's celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, on September 17, 2014.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana is among two dozen federal courts around the country which held naturalization ceremonies marking the date in 1787 that Constitutional Convention delegates signed the nation’s founding document. Ninety-nine petitioners from more than thirty countries took the Oath of Allegiance at the New Orleans ceremony held on Wednesday morning at Roussel Hall at Loyola University New Orleans. Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana spearheaded the planning and presided over the ceremony. United States Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby also presided.
Students from sixteen different schools attended the event. As part of the program, student JROTC members from Jesuit High School presented the Colors; the Warren Easton High School Concert Band performed the National Anthem and other patriotic music; the St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory School Choir sang patriotic songs; the Constitution Day Essay Contest Winner, Forge Mathes from St. Paul’s Catholic School, read his essay; and a cast from the International High School of New Orleans presented the skit “America, A Nation of Our Own: Gateway to Freedom.” In addition, Reverend Kevin Wildes, S.J., President of Loyola University New Orleans, welcomed all attendees, and the Daughters of the American Revolution lead the Pledge of Allegiance. United States Attorney Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Kimberly Silas of the Louisiana State Bar Association, and Dean María Pabón López of the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law were the keynote speakers.
“The Naturalization ceremony is an extremely important and meaningful event in the lives of the new citizens,” said Judge Lemmon. “The immigrants study our government and pledge themselves to follow our Constitution and laws. Scheduling this event on Constitution Day emphasizes the importance of this pledge of allegiance.”
This is the first time the Federal Judiciary has coordinated a day of naturalization ceremonies across the nation. To support Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, as well as court-related civics education, the federal courts provided multi-media educational resources for use in courtrooms and classrooms.
The federal courts’ national initiative is part of broader efforts by the Civics Renewal Network (CRN) convened by the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics at the Annenberg Public Policy Center. CRN is an alliance of 26 organizations dedicated to raising the visibility of civics education and providing free, high-quality resources for teachers. Partners include the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Constitution Center, the Newseum, the National Endowment for the Humanities’ EDSITEment, and the U.S. Courts. Louisiana Center for Law and Civic Education played a large role in the event, with its executive director, Peggy Cotogno organizing participation by area high schools.
[+] Federal Courts’ National Outreach Initiative “Open Doors to Federal Courts”[–] Federal Courts’ National Outreach Initiative “Open Doors to Federal Courts.”
[+] Working for Justice: Careers in the Courts[–] Working for Justice: Careers in the Courts
[+] Middle School Mock Trial Experience[–] Middle School Mock Trial Experience
Judge Berrigan hosts students from Crescent Leadership Academy (CLA), which is a Type 5 Charter School providing alternative educational services to students in grades 7-12 in the New Orleans Recovery School District. While the primary focus is attendance, CLA serves a wide population of students and is focused on high achievement levels of the New Orleans alternative school population. The students receives an Individualized Learning Plan and customized educational environments that address different learning styles.
[+] Judicial Hammers - Habitat for Humanity[–] Judicial Hammers - Habitat for Humanity
[+] Serving Up the Homeless[–] Serving Up the Homeless
[+] SOLACE[–] SOLACE
The SOLACE program now has over 8000 members in Louisiana and also in 15 states and Puerto Rico.
[+] Angola Trip[–] Angola Trip
[+] Re-Entry Court[–] Re-Entry Court
This is the second Re-Entry Court that the judge has presiding over. In March of 2012, the first group was started. Of the original eleven members, seven graduated successfully, having completed the program entirely. Two others were retained on supervised release, and have not had any violations. One other member was so successful with his work that he was able to drop out of the program and the last participant, unfortunately, was shot and killed early in the program by someone in his neighborhood with a grudge against him.
[+] General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, Inc.[–] General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, Inc.
[+] Cafe Reconcile[–] Cafe Reconcile
[+] HELP - Homeless Experience Legal Protection[–] HELP - Homeless Experience Legal Protection
[+] New Orleans Homeless Court Program[–] New Orleans Homeless Court Program
A significant percentage of the Orleans Parish Municipal Court docket consists of homeless men and women, many of whom find them on the Municipal Court docket on a regular basis. NOHC offers assistance to these defendants in two ways. The Court recognizes that these defendants are best served by treatment, not punishment. NOHC is designed to assist the homeless receive much needed treatment and services. When the docket convenes on the third Wednesday of every month, present in Court are a number of homeless service providers, including UNITY of New Orleans, an umbrella group of providers that works to find suitable housing; Veterans Justice Outreach; Metropolitan Human Services District, and local homeless shelters. Many of these providers are already case workers for the defendants in Court. For those without a case worker, an assessment can be done and services identified. NOHC also aims to help those individuals ready to move on with their lives to clear their record of legal offenses related to their homeless condition and which pose an impediment to placement in housing and/or employment.
[+] Veterans Treatment Court[–] Veterans Treatment Court
The Veterans Treatment Court model requires regular court appearances (a bi-weekly minimum in the early phases of the program). as well as mandatory attendance at treatment sessions and frequent and random testing for substance use (drug and/or alcohol). Veterans respond favorably to this structured environment given their past experiences in the Armed Forces. However, a few will struggle and it is exactly those veterans who need a Veterans Treatment Court program the most. Without this structure, these veterans will reoffend and remain in the criminal justice system. The Veterans Treatment Court is able to ensure they meet their obligations to themselves, the court, and their community.
Judge Zainey helped to develop the Veterans Treatment Court with the assistance of Lilia Valdez-Lindsley, Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist for the Veterans Administration, and Chief Judge John Molaison and Judge Ellen Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court.
[+] Veterans Legal Assistance[–] Veterans Legal Assistance
[+] Boss for a Day[–] Boss for a Day
[+] International High School of New Orleans Internship Program[–] International High School of New Orleans Internship Program
[+] The History of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana[–] The History of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
Law Related Education
[+] Louisiana Commission on Civic Education[–] Louisiana Commission on Civic Education
[+] District Judges Association of the Fifth Circuit[–] District Judges Association of the Fifth Circuit
[+] LSBA/JTBF Suit up for the Future Summer High School Intern Program[–] LSBA/JTBF Suit up for the Future Summer High School Intern Program
[+] Our Courts America[–] Our Courts America
Judge Roby with
Justice Sandra Day O'Conner
[+] Louisiana Legislature: Law and Civic Education Day 2007[–] Louisiana Legislature: Law and Civic Education Day 2007
[+] Lunch with the Court[–] Lunch with the Court
[+] American Inns of Court Foundation Board[–] American Inns of Court Foundation Board