What is the Court Ambassador Program (CAP)?
The CAP is an opportunity for students to act as liaisons between the local courts and their universities in several key ways:
- Learning about innovative judicial programs and services
- Serving as a campus contact for court officials
- Recruiting other CAP members
- There are three components to this effort:
- Your University/College
- Academic component (coursework, presentations)
- The Trial Court Administrator’s Office/Your Local Court System
- Experiential learning aligned with coursework
- Justice initiatives, Inc. (JI)
- Research and advocacy on higher level issues concerning the importance of the rule of law and the role a healthy court system plays in safeguarding our civilized society. Examples include tracking legislation, writing (positions papers, white papers, etc.), and speaking on issues of importance to the court system including:
- Adequately funded courts
- Protecting judicial independence
- Spurring innovation
Benefits and Requirements for the CAP
CAP members are enthusiastic about innovation and reform in the legal field and involved in their school communities. Although being in the CAP is open to all disciplines, members likely have majors in Political Science, Criminal Justice, Law, Paralegal Technology or Public Administration. CAP members have the opportunity to enhance their professional development, leadership, and communication skills, as well as access to a unique network across the state.
Additional benefits of being in the CAP include:
- Guidance and structure while encouraging students to develop their own ideas.
- Working closely with local court officials.
- Attending events as a CAP representative.
- Building transferrable skills to add to your resume that make you marketable during and after your college tenure.
- Fostering relationships with campus faculty and student groups.
- Being a source of knowledge for your university about the local court system.
- Course Credit
An ideal student Ambassador is:
- Passionate, energetic and looking to improve the quality of justice
- Skilled in persuasive writing and public speaking
- Enrolled in full-time undergraduate/post graduate study
- Available a minimum of ten (10) hours per week to spend on assignments for at least one (1) semester, to include reporting to the Mecklenburg County Courthouse (with other judicial districts to be added in the future)
- Looking to make an ongoing commitment to a student organizations and its activities
What are the Basic Guidelines for the CAP?
- Continuous engagement and communication are key.
- Although an unpaid experience, we expect CAP members to treat this opportunity much like a job.
- Students are recommended through their academic department and must have had prior coursework in Judicial Process.
What Do CAP Members Do?
In the simplest sense, CAP members will have the opportunity to engage on issues of importance to the court system through a practical independent study internship at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. They will also help spread the word about the needs and interests of the court system on campus. Some specific ways to do that include, but are not limited to:
- Working with campus administration and staff to help them make students aware of internships or scholarships that are offered within the judiciary that can benefit students.
- Recruiting fellow students in becoming CAP members or volunteers.
- Researching funding sources for initiatives in support of CAP efforts.
- Serving as a court representative at community organization fairs, festivals, and other programs and events.
- Helping coordinate existing and developing new court initiatives that support the courts’ mission.
- Sharing personal experience to give future CAP members a realistic impression of what CAP is like.
- Helping spread the word about upcoming initiatives.
Training & Sample CAP Assignments
An initial orientation session will be held at the beginning of the semester in which CAP is held. This allows members to get to know each other, establish a sense of community, and learn what the expectations will look like. There will be two other professional development sessions focused on helping CAP participants learn about specific areas within the court system and to market themselves as budding professionals in the field. Sample assignments include:
- Reading the Federalist Papers (Numbers 1, 47-48, and 78-85)
- Reading Court Opinions (Marbury vs. Madison and McCulloch vs. Maryland):
- Tracking legislation and developing talking points in support or against various bills.
- Drafting letters to the editor and/or creating social media postings related to such; making an initial attempt at white papers on various topics such as merit selection, court funding, and topics identified by the JI Advocacy and Public Policy Committee.
- Courtroom observations.
- Identifying grant opportunities to advance the work of JI.
- Social media advocacy.