Unless you’ve taken the bar exam or spent years combing through legal textbooks, most of your familiarity with the law probably stems from TV dramas.
The Michigan Association for Justice, Pence and Numinen P.C., Northern Michigan University and the Peter White Public Library are trying to change all that with a five-week program analyzing Michigan’s legal system and outlining the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
“Our goal is to educate the layperson in the complexities of the law; to make them more comfortable in case they’re selected as a juror or have the misfortune of being a litigant,” explained Steven Pence, an Attorney at Law who helped put the program together. “It’s just to maybe ease how they feel about the court system. Give them some understanding, the inside view from law professors, judges, and lawyers about how it really works, as opposed to what you see on Court TV or CSI.”
The makeshift People’s Law School is now in it’s fifth year and acts like any other legal institution, aside from the cost. Students ask experts in the field questions, that would normally cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars to answer, covering a wide range of topics like Estate Planning, Workers’ Compensation, and Social Security Disability.
“One of the things we talked about last week was how government generally has immunity from a lawsuit,” added Pence. “The government is a successor of kings. In English Common Law, the King could do no wrong and you could only sue the King if he consented to be sued. So, the government can do a lot of bad things and they can’t be sued for it because they’re immune.”
Sessions started in late September and run through the end of October. It costs $25 for the entire program and there’s still time to sign up.