Judge Steven G. Rogers ’95 Selected as Judge of the Year
The first time Regent University School of Law alumnus Judge Steven Rogers ’95 ever logged onto the internet – screeching dialup tone and all – was to view his bar exam results on campus.
More than two decades later, he’s bringing law to life for young students who don’t remember a world without the wide web.
“They think, ‘It was before the internet, why would I pay attention to the Bill of Rights?” said Rogers. “It’s hard to relate these old principles to the Snapchat generation. But they affect their everyday lives.”
In June 2016, Rogers was named Judge of the Year for 2016 in Florida for his work with Justice Teaching, a statewide program that matches elementary, middle and high schools with professionals in the legal field. The initiative began in 2006, by Florida Supreme Court Justice Fred Lewis.
“It was a really good honor for me,” said Rogers. “To be picked out of all the judges in the state of Florida, from Pensacola to Key West, that’s pretty special.”
Rogers brings his expertise as a Circuit Judge to students in Ocala, Florida, with a series of exercises that give context, relevance and a bit of fun to the subject of law.
“We’ll go through the Bill of Rights by imagining that aliens are invading,” said Rogers. “They tell us that we have too many rights and that we have to choose five of them that we want to keep.”
Throughout the exercise, Rogers will explain why rights like the freedom of religion and the right to peaceably assemble, and the right for a jury trial but a right to an attorney go hand-in-hand when it comes to the law.
“It’s a fun activity, and we have a really good time,” said Rogers. “And I get a new audience every year because they haven’t stopped making fifth-graders yet.”
In his day-to-day life, Rogers’ goal is to bring the same level of understanding to his constituents as he carries out his duties.
“People are in court because something bad is going on in their lives,” said Rogers. “My job is to help them navigate through that time. My goal is to help them know they’ve been listened to and to give them a decision that they hopefully can understand, even though I know not everyone is going to agree with it.”
To his fellow alumni, his advice – along with “remembering values” – is clear:
“Finish law school and be a member of the bar,” said Rogers. “A lot of times I’ll see lawyers who’ve compromised their character and ethics. But they need to know that their reputation goes beyond a particular case. Law and the principles of law are founded on a lot more than greed, money, power and influence.”
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