NEGAUNEE - The fourth annual People's Law School begins Thursday for those who want to learn more about the law and current legal issues.
The People's Law School is a program that originated in Detroit where lawyers for the United Auto Workers decided their members and general public should have some understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and to encourage an act of citizenry, local attorney Steve Pence said. It then spread to Lansing where it was very successful.
"Wherever it's been tried in Michigan other than Lansing it hasn't taken hold," Pence said. "So about four years ago I thought this would be a good thing if we could do it and have it take hold here in the U.P. and keep it going."
The four-week program will be held at the Negaunee High School. It used to be held in Marquette but this year the program is being moved to the west end to try and get a different group of participants, Pence said.
"We also opened it to students, (high school) junior or older, this year that are interested in civics," Pence said.
Pence said he believes the class attracts lifelong learners but encourages everyone to attend.
"It's better than being angry at your TV and complaining about the government," Pence said. "This is a course that encourages you to become active citizens and maybe to run for office."
The session are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, beginning this week and also running Oct. 4, 11 and 18. They will focus on a range of topics from divorce court, real estate, Michigan's no fault law and others. All presentations will be done by local lawyers.
"I think lawyers, especially trial lawyers, we're sort of natural teachers ourselves because it's our job to teach the judges about our case and to teach the juries about our arguments," Pence said. "So for lawyers to step out and lecture on the law is sort of a natural thing."
Along with the lectures will be plenty of time for question and answer sessions, Pence said. The highlight of the program will be Thomas Casselman's lecture on his book "The Life of a Criminal Defense Lawyer," which will be on Oct. 11.
"The price of not being involved in government is having people who might not be as motivated as you, make a decision that affects all of your lives," Pence said.
There is a graduation party scheduled for Oct. 18 after class at the Midtown Bakery in Negaunee. Certificates will be awarded to those who attend three or more sessions.
Registration is open throughout the four weeks and is $25 for the program. For more information or to register, visit www.pencenuminen.com or call 226-2580, ext. 4.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401.