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Legal Education Group Honors Ninth Circuit Judge

June 4, 2012 / Ninth Circuit Public Information Office

Judge Mary Murguia talks with students visiting the Phoenix courthouse last fall

A federal judge who has helped hundreds of young people in the Phoenix area to better understand the law and judicial system will be honored later this month by the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education.

Judge Mary H. Murguia of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has been selected to receive the foundation's Mark Santana Law-Related Education Award at a June 21 luncheon in Phoenix.  She is the first federal judge to receive the award, which recognizes exceptional contributions by members of the Arizona bench and bar in furthering education and understanding of the role of the law in our democratic society.

Judge Murguia is being honored for her work with the Kids to Court/CourtWorks program, which she co-founded in 2004 while a judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.  The program provides young people with a firsthand look at the courts through a visit to the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix.  Nearly 2,000 youngsters have participated in the program, which includes a mock trial, and presentations by judges, attorneys, court staff and law enforcement officers.

"I am humbled by this recognition and proud to accept the award on behalf of the District Court of Arizona and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals," Judge Murguia said.

The most recent Kids to Court/CourtWorks program, held in October 2011, focused on the Constitution's Fourth Amendment safeguards against unreasonable

search and seizure.  The mock trial was based on a 1985 U.S. Supreme  Court ruling in a case involving a New Jersey teenager whose purse was searched by school officials, revealing drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Some 300 eighth-graders from a half-dozen public and private schools in the greater Phoenix area participated, assuming the roles of judges, prosecutors and defense counsel, defendants, jurors, witnesses, and courtroom staff. 

In addition to federal judges and court staff, the Kids to Court/CourtWorks program also involves volunteer attorneys, most of them federal practitioners, who serve as coaches, and students from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, who help organize the event.

Judge Murguia was appointed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Obama and received her commission on January 4, 2011.  She had served previously as a U.S. district judge for the District of Arizona since 2000.  Before coming onto the bench, Judge Murguia held various positions in the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys in Washington, D.C., including director from 1999 to 2000, and served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Arizona from 1990 to 2000.

Judge Murguia received her B.S. and B.A. from the University of Kansas in 1982 and her J.D. from the University of Kansas Law School in 1985.  She maintains chambers in Phoenix.

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