U.S. Court Western District to offer presentations and tours

In recognition of Law Day 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan plans a May 1st launch of a new feature on their internet site providing links and information on the federal judiciary, as well as allowing schools and various civic groups to schedule courthouse presentations and tours at the Courthouse in Grand Rapids. 

Thomas Dorwin, Clerk of the District Court, said that finding new ways to increase outreach to the community has been a long-term goal of the court.  “Chief Judge Robert Jonker is always very interested in making the Courthouse more accessible to the public,” Dorwin said.  “We hope this initiative helps the public better understand the role and function of the Judiciary in our federal scheme, as well as some aspects of our judicial officer and staff’s service to the public in the Western District.”

Dorwin sees the website enhancement and tour offerings as a good first step, but thought there may be ways to build on it in the future. “For instance, I have had some initial discussions with the Federal Bar Association regarding future collaboration” Dorwin said.  “We will need to see how it evolves, but the attorneys who regularly practice in federal court have a unique perspective and expertise many in the public would find interesting.”

Ms. Sharon Turek, Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Michigan, and President-Elect of the West Michigan Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, readily agreed.  “The Western District of Michigan has a strong federal bar association whose members are always looking for ways to better serve and educate the public on legal issues impacting their lives.  The court serves as a vital forum for these kinds of matters, so we are very interested in partnering with the court and others to get that message out,” Turek said.

A variety of online tools will be available to schools and organizations interested in learning about the Federal Court system.

Tours of the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse will tentatively be offered on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. for adult community groups, and students in Grades 9-12.

More information may be found on the District Court’s website at http://www.miwd.

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