May 2021 - Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions Program
On May 25, 2021, the Chester Bedell American Inn of Court, along with the Jacksonville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, conducted the Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions program for students at Fletcher High School in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. This program is a national initiative of the federal court system. Ordinarily, this is a three-hour, in-person courtroom event to educate students on the legal consequences that everyday decisions can trigger. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event was moved to Fletcher High School, with the participating attorneys appearing in person, and Judge Schlesinger appearing remotely. The students were given a fact pattern regarding whether comments made on social media were protected by the First Amendment. The students were broken into two groups to prepare closing arguments: one group for the government, and one group for the defendant. The attorneys facilitated the discussions to help shape the closing arguments. Judge Schlesinger then presided over the closing arguments, which were made by three students from each group. All students then deliberated as jurors to determine if the defendant’s actions were protected by the First Amendment. Judge Schlesinger conducted a “reality check” quiz to ensure the students were knowledgeable of the legal consequences their everyday decisions could trigger. The students’ participation throughout this event was impressive. They could articulate and advocate complicated legal arguments on behalf of their respective clients and demonstrated a keen knowledge that behavior that may seem innocent or harmless could have long-term legal consequences. They seemed to enjoy the program, as every student remained actively engaged.
October 2020 - Nineteenth Amendment
Our Inn, along with the U.S. District Court, the Middle District of Florida Bench & Bar fund, the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, the Jacksonville Chapter of ABOTA, the Jacksonville Federal Bar Association, the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association and the Jacksonville Bar Association, arranged for the display of the award-winning traveling exhibit, “100 Years After the 19th Amendment: Their Legacy, and Our Future” at the Courthouse and Library. Because live tours for students were not possible, Inn members produced a video tour of the exhibit which was distributed to the school system as part of the Inn’s community outreach activities and civics education.
January 2020 - Trial Academy
Through the extensive efforts of Corinne Hodak (President, Jacksonville Chapter of ABOTA, long-term CBAIC executive committee member and former Counselor) and Laura Boeckman, current Inn Counselor, the two organizations partnered to hold the first Trial Academy on January 30th, 31st and February 1st of 2020. The program was presented using the materials created by the American Inns of Court and ABOTA with minor modifications. Participants included 24 students, 26 faculty members and eight Judges. The program was an overwhelming success with great participation by both organizations and rave reviews from the faculty and students. With special permission from the Hon. Mark Mahon, Chief Judge of Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit, the Trial Academy was held in the Duval County Courthouse. The students and faculty initially met for an orientation in the Jury Assembly Room, where they later gathered each day for lectures, demonstrations, lunch and panel discussions. Students and faculty were also assigned to courtrooms where students gave their presentations and the faculty provided their critiques and advice. There were four students to each courtroom and four faculty.
January 2018 - Justice Breyer
Upon learning United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer would be part of the University of North Florida’s Presidential Lecture Series and discuss his book, The Court and The World, American Law and the New Global Realities, our tireless Cory Hodak and Master Crystal Broughan orchestrated our entire January meeting around the event. This program was put together so well and the effort so extraordinary that it easily won our Inn’s award for best program. Before the fireside chat, members gathered in a “book club” style format to discuss the book. Group Breyer selected Jacksonville Area Legal Aid to receive the winning charitable contribution, and all members of group Breyer were treated to a free cocktail at the annual meeting. Each attendee received a free copy of the book.
October 2017 - Achieving Excellence Celebration
In October 2017, President, Judge Patricia Barksdale, Immediate‐Past Counselor, Corinne Hodak, current Counselor, Michael Prendergast, and his wife Mary Lou, had the pleasure of attending the Achieving Excellence Celebration at the United States Supreme Court. Each was proud to represent the Chester Bedell American Inn of Court in accepting Platinum Status recognition.
October 2016 - Pegasus Scholars
For five days in late October 2016, our Inn hosted Pegasus Scholars Heather Oliver from London and Grey’s Inn and Laura Gould from Manchester and Lincoln’s Inn. We are not sure if they had more fun being here or we had more fun hosting them. Executive Committee member and Barrister Poppy Decunto, President and Master Hon. Patricia Barksdale, and Counselor and Master Corinne Hodak took the lead on preparing the activities and schedule for the Pegasus Scholars. Many other volunteers of our Inn gave time, ideas, energy, money, and even use of their homes to ensure the trip to Jacksonville was memorable, informative, insightful, and enjoyable. Some of their activities included a behind-the-scenes-visit to the Jacksonville Jaguars' Stadium, observing a state court trial, attending a Naturalization Ceremony, observing the Florida/Georgia Moot Court Competition, observing a federal jury selection, and attending the Florida/Georgia football game.
August 2011 - Leadership Summit
Several members of our Executive Committee attended the Eleventh Circuit Leadership Summit. This was an excellent meeting, with very good programs and an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with leaders of other Inns in the circuit.