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Street Law workshop provides Missouri teachers with constitutional instruction, timely classroom materials

Quality teaching makes a huge difference in the lives of students and that is especially true in the teaching of government and civics. The Missouri Bar’s Citizenship Education Department on Tuesday collaborated with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to offer educators the opportunity to attend a Street Law Professional Development workshop. 

The virtual workshop brought together 25 high school teachers along with Missouri legal professionals and Street Law program coordinators to explore strategies for teaching the Fourth Amendment and to practice mini moot court exercises.  

“Street Law is a program that usually succeeds because of the extensive interaction among teachers,” said Dr. Tony Simones, director of citizenship education for The Missouri Bar. “We were concerned the online format would undermine that interaction, but the teachers communicated with each other extensively, albeit virtually.” 

The mini moot courts allow students to examine how the legal system works through role playing as a petitioner, a respondent, or a judge. In addition to learning how to conduct mini moot courts with their students, the teachers were presented with instruction methodologies and timely classroom materials.  

The court case used for this year’s workshop was Canaglia v. Strom. This case involved issues around the seizure of two firearms while Edward Canaglia was undergoing a voluntary psychiatric evaluation following an altercation with his spouse. The guns were not returned for three months, prompting Canaglia to file a lawsuit claiming violation of his Second and Fourth Amendment rights.  

“One thing that was not different was the outstanding content and teaching strategies provided by Street Law,” said Simones. “Because of the great work by the facilitators, the participants and the coaches, it was a tremendous success.” 

Street Law program coordinators included Cathy Ruffing and Jen Wheeler. Additional program staff included Rachel Marshall of the U.S. District Court, and Dr. Tony Simones, Becky Libbert, and Russ Sackreiter representing The Missouri Bar.  

Program participants were also coached by the Hon. Joseph L. Goff, Jr., associate circuit judge in St. Francois County; Nauman Wadalawala, assistant U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Missouri; and Diane Dragan and Ryan Hehner, both assistant Federal Public Defenders, Eastern District of Missouri.  

“The participation of these Missouri legal professionals enhanced the workshop because they were able to provide insight as to how the laws were applied based on the specifics of the case in question,” Simones added. 

For more information about The Missouri Bar’s upcoming Citizenship Education programs or workshops, please contact Simones at tsimones@mobar.org.