stock photo Student at podium

A Voice in the Top Court

Since 1998, the Maryland Court of Appeals has opened the doors of the Maryland Court of Appeals courtroom to a very different group of visitors: students in the juvenile justice system who have gotten to know the court system in unfortunate and unenviable ways.

Each November, the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) and the Maryland State Department of Education hold the championship round of their Oratorical Contest at the Court of Appeals. The young participants are escorted in from facilities throughout the state. In the courtroom, they deliver speeches they have prepared before a courtroom crowded with their families and officials from the juvenile justice system and state school system. The students’ three- to five-minute essays are based on a quotation or theme that challenges them to re-think their lives and past decisions and set new courses for their futures. Chief Judge Robert M. Bell has hosted the event for the past 14 years.