Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: May 2, 2001

Seal of the Unified Court System
www.nycourts.gov
Court System Launches New Community Outreach Website
Today, as part of the Law Day ceremonies held at the New York State Court of Appeals, Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye announced the activation of the Unified Court System's Public Affairs website (found at www.courts.state.ny.us). The website is intended to be the cornerstone of the court system's community and educational outreach initiative and is a key component of the Chief Judge's overall effort to improve the public's access to and knowledge of New York's justice system.

The basic concepts behind the educational website were initially conceived by the Unified Court System's Committee to Promote Public Trust and Confidence in the Legal System, and the site has developed simultaneously with the court system's various public outreach programs. The site features information about how to become involved in the courts' community initiatives, such as "Senior Citizen Law Days," "Take Your Children to Work Day" and "Local Court Appreciation Days." The site also provides information about how to obtain court system publications that relate to topics as diverse as the jury experience and communications between the courts and the media. The largest components of the site, however, are the educational pages that are directed toward students of all grade levels and their teachers, primarily social studies teachers.

The educational package centers around "Teaching Tools," which were developed, with the assistance of a Teachers Advisory Group, to provide information that will help social studies teachers meet the curriculum requirements mandated by the state social studies curriculum. There are four Teaching Tools for each of three grade levels - elementary, middle and high school. The Teaching Tools serve the dual purpose of providing innovative ways to teach about the New York State court system, while also encouraging the use of the "Speakers Bureau" and "Court Tours" programs to help bring students together with judges or other court personnel in an educational setting and to open court facilities to local communities.

For students' enjoyment, the educational component of the website also features "Court Classroom" pages. These pages provide age-appropriate activities to students in each of the three grade levels addressed by the "Teaching Tools." Special programs found under the Court Classroom icon include the "Case of the Month," which provides primary sources for students to read, and the "E-Mail a Judge" program, which allows students to e-mail court-related questions directly to a judge.

Chief Judge Kaye stated, "On Law Day, in keeping with our celebration of children, I am delighted to present this comprehensive program that will surely benefit all citizens, particularly our social studies students. I believe the successful creation of this website is another fine example of how New York is taking a leadership role in making courts more responsive to our communities and in restoring public confidence in the legal system."

Along with a special message from Chief Judge Kaye, the home page of the website features the following icons:

  • Teaching Tools 
  • Court Classroom 
  • Speakers Bureau 
  • Senior Citizen Law Day 
  • History of the Courts 
  • Visit a Courthouse 
  • Virtual Courthouse Tour 
The community and educational outreach initiative may be accessed through the Public Affairs page of the Unified Court System's web site: www.courts.state.ny.us. Hard copies of specified materials are also available through the Office of Court Administration's Office of Public Affairs: (518) 474-7469.