St. Louis County Courts

St. Louis County
Judicial Speakers Bureau

The judges of the St. Louis County Circuit Court welcome the opportunity to help the public learn more about the law, the legal system and the courts.

Members of the St. Louis County Judicial Speakers Bureau are available to speak to elementary, middle and high school groups, universities, town hall meetings, churches and civic organizations on a wide range of topics, at no charge. Please send us your request at least three weeks in advance, and let us know how long you would like the judge to speak. If you would like to request a specific judge, we will make every effort to accommodate you.

To arrange for a member of the St. Louis County Judicial Speakers Bureau to speak to your school or organization, please complete the Speaker Request Form below. You may also contact Public Information Officer Christine Bertelson by phone at 314-615-2643 or email Christine.Bertelson@courts.mo.gov.

Suggested Topics

A Constitutional Crossroad: The Felony Guilty Plea

Description: The often misunderstood guilty plea plays a significant and indispensable role in the expeditious administration of justice. This presentation identifies and explores the constitutional dimensions of a felony guilty plea through the presenter taking a fictional guilty plea using volunteers from the audience as the defendant, defense counsel and prosecuting attorney. It also seeks to educate the audience about the importance of the role of the judge in this critical phase in the criminal process.

Audience: Adults

Length of presentation: 20-30 minutes

Can the School Search You and Your Stuff?

Description: This presentation is designed to introduce students to the Fourth Amendment, focusing on key concepts and the historical roots of the amendment, as well as its applicability to a search in a school setting. Participants will be able to provide their ideas about two landmark United States Supreme Court decisions dealing with searches in schools and will be presented with a scenario in which they will be asked to decide whether probable cause exists to issue a search warrant.

Audience: Middle School Students, High School Students

Length of presentation: 30-40 minutes

Fairness and the Role of Courts

Description: This presentation allows students to witness and experience a legal dispute and the process by which a court resolves the dispute. In this presentation, a hypothetical conflict between the teacher and a student is created and taken to court. The class is challenged to provide its own resolution of the disagreement. The judge ultimately will make a ruling that illustrates not only the importance of the rule of law but also the fact that parties are treated equally in the courts, regardless of their status.

Audience: Elementary School Students

Length of presentation: 30-40 minutes

Good Riddance, Mean King George! Fair Treatment for All

Description: This presentation provides students with an appreciation of our court system by showing what happened during the Colonial Period when a strong judicial system was not available. The presentation emphasizes the constitutional response to the abuses the colonists suffered under King George.

Audience: 4th grade – 8th grade students

Length of presentation: 20-30 minutes

Justice Kennedy's Dilemma: The Flag Burning Case and Judicial Decision Making

Description: This presentation demonstrates how the decision making process of judges differs from that of members of the executive and legislative branch, focusing on the case of Texas v. Johnson. In this case, the members of the United States Supreme Court were split 4-4 on whether flag burning should be constitutionally protected. The deciding vote was held by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was personally offended by the act of flag burning but believed the First Amendment protected this form of political protest. Participants not only will evaluate Kennedy’s ultimate decision but also will present their ideas about the First Amendment and controversial, inflammatory speech.

Audience: Adults, College Students, High School Students

Length of presentation: 15-45 minutes, depending on the extent of audience participation

The Case of the Missing Recess

Description: This presentation allows judges to explain to elementary school students what courts do in the context of a hypothetical constitutional right to recess and whether a teacher’s decision to discipline the class violates this right. The presentation addresses the role of courts, judicial decision making and constitutional protections and requires the students to make their own decisions about the issues involved in this case.

Audience: Fourth-grade

Length of presentation: 30 minutes

The Challenge of Deciding Tough Cases: Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier

Description: This presentation examines the landmark Supreme Court decision dealing with the First Amendment and arising from a dispute in a Missouri school. When a principal concluded that stories about teen pregnancy and divorce should be removed from the school newspaper, student journalists filed suit and set the stage for litigation that shaped the constitutional rights of students seeking to invoke the freedom of the press.

Audience: Adults, College Students, High School Students

Length of presentation: 25-40 minutes, depending on the extent of audience participation

The Challenge of Deciding Tough Cases: Safford v. Redding

Description: An examination of the controversial Fourth Amendment confrontation that occurred when school officials performed a strip search of a 13-year-old student suspected of bringing drugs to school. This presentation not only examines the specific facts of Savana Redding’s case, but it also explores the broader question of the Fourth Amendment’s applicability in a school setting. Participants will be called upon to provide their own views about this case, as well as the constitutional limits placed upon schools in their effort to battle the very serious problem of drugs.

Audience: Adults, College-Level Audiences, High School Students, Middle School Students

Length of presentation: 15-45 minutes

The Challenge of Deciding Tough Cases: The Battle of Skokie

Description: An examination of the controversial First Amendment confrontation that occurred when members of the American Nazi Party sought to march in the predominantly Jewish city of Skokie, Illinois. This presentation goes beyond the specific facts of the Skokie case to explore the dimensions of the First Amendment and the judiciary’s role in protecting it. Participants will be called upon to provide their views about how far the First Amendment extends and to put themselves in the position of being judges resolving this case.

Audience: Adults, College-Level Audiences, High School Students, Middle School Students

Length of presentation: 15-45 minutes

The Challenge of Deciding Tough Cases: Tinker v. Des Moines

Description: An examination of the First Amendment confrontation that occurred in the late 1960s when Mary Beth Tinker was suspended from her high school for wearing a black arm band to protest the Vietnam War. The Supreme Court’s decision will be examined, in addition to a recent Missouri case involving students who were suspended for creating a website that caused a disruption at their high school. Participants will be called upon to provide their own views about these cases, as well as the constitutional limits placed upon schools in the regulation of student speech.

Audience: Adults, College-Level Audiences, High School Students, Middle School Students

Length of presentation: 15-45 minutes

Other Topics

 U.S. Government: Three Branches
The three branches of government, separation of powers, additional detail about the judicial branch of government, equal justice under the law, and the meaning and importance of fair and impartial courts

The Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan
How judges are selected and held accountable in St. Louis County

How Judges Decide

Factors and constraints that affect how judicial decisions are made.

The Rule of Law 
What does "the rule of law" mean? What are the important principles and characteristics of the rule of law?  What is the court's role in upholding this concept?

The Bill of Rights and its importance to our everyday lives
The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, collectively called the Bill of Rights, and the role courts play in protecting those rights

My Black Robe: The Journey to the Bench
How does someone become a judge? What are the roles, responsibilities and limits of judges’ authority?

St. Louis County Judicial Speakers Bureau

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