Law Related Education and Civic Programs
The Macomb County Bar Foundation hosts many programs throughout the year to benefit the public. Foundation hosted programs give opportunity for grade school students, high school students, adults and seniors to learn and participate in civic education.
In partnership with the Michigan Center for Civic Education, the Foundation began hosting the Macomb Regional Tournament in 2014. Owing much to the relationship between the Macomb County bench and bar, the Foundation uses the Macomb County Circuit courtrooms, jury room, and conference rooms to host the tournament. Further, the Foundation successfully recruits real Judges to preside over the mock trials. Many more attorneys volunteer to act as court officers, scoring judges, while other attorneys coach the high school teams as they prepare for competition. The Macomb Regional Mock Trial has served as a model for other areas of the State and is held the first Saturday of March each year.
The Foundation joins with many bar associations and foundations across the United States to educate the public on the role of law in our society and the historical significance law has played in the foundation of the United States of America. Following the leadership and guidance from the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan, the Foundation hosts an annual Law Day ceremony to celebrate the effort put forth by area students and teachers. With the Macomb Intermediate School District as a partner, the Foundation reaches out to 201 elementary and middle schools to offer students the opportunity to compete in poster (grades 1-4) and essay (grades 6-8) contests. Another 14 private and charter schools are also invited to participate. The Foundation receives an average of one thousand essays and hundreds of posters each year.
A committee of volunteer attorneys meet to read every essay and review all posters, eventually coming to agreement on the top three essays and posters for grades 1 through 8. The winning students and their families are then invited to attend the ceremony where they are seated in the chairs of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners on the 9th floor of the Macomb County Administration Building in Mt. Clemens, MI. Many of Macomb County’s Circuit and District Court Judges, the Macomb County Sheriff, and Macomb County’s own Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court have attended the ceremony and they have literally awarded certificates and prizes to the students.
September 17th is a federal day of observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is normally observed on September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia.
The Foundation has provided a variety of Constitution Day activities that have involved the public with a focus on involving High School students. For example, on September 17, 2015, the Foundation partnered with Macomb Community College to present a “Debate on the Meaning and Interpretation of the United States Constitution”. High school students, senior citizens, attorneys, judges, elected officials, college students and faculty attended the debate providing for diverse audience and discussion. Other events included a high school tour of the 16th Circuit Court with group activities guided by Judges and a concluding lecture by Law Professor Robert Sedler on the constitutional right to free speech. Each year the Foundation distributes copies of the Constitution to members of the public.
Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11, to honor persons who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
The Foundation has on occasion put together programs that fulfill the mission of law related education. For example, an Veterans Day, November 11, 2015, the Foundation hosted a historical mock trial, “The United Stated v. Harry S. Truman; Was Dropping the Atomic Bombs Over Japan Justified?”
More than 300 people were in attendance to watch this trial unfold on the main stage of Macomb Community College’s Performing Arts Center. The audience included students from Warren Fitzgerald and Romeo High Schools, senior citizens, Veterans of Foreign War, attorneys, college students and faculty. At the conclusion of the trial the audience acted as the jury and returned not guilty verdicts on each of the two counts charged against the former President of the United States. The project was made possible by the respectful and learned approach by all of the volunteer actors:
Hon. Antonio Viviano as President Harry S. Truman
Hon. James Biernat Sr., as Presiding Judge
Hon. Michael Warren, Narrator
Hon. Carl Marlinga, as Defense Attorney
David Griem, Esq., as Prosecutor
Anthony Wickersham, Macomb County Sheriff, as Court Deputy
Todd Woodcox, St. Clair Shores Chief of Police, as witness Michihiko Hachiyamd
Michael Switalski, Roseville City Treasurer as Expert / Summary Witness
Douglas Forrester, Emeritus Professor of History as Expert / Summary Witness
Audience, as the Jury
The Constitution Day and Veterans Day law related education projects were filmed as part of the Foundation’s Legally Speaking television show. They are available to educators everywhere on DVD and to the public at large on the Internet. A special copy of the Veterans Day DVD is archived at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, MS.
Legally Speaking is a television show with a mission to deliver information about law through interviews with people about subjects that impact our lives. This television show, filmed for Public/Education/Government television in partnership with the City of Sterling Heights, has been in production since the early 1990’s. In 2019, Legally Speaking partnered with Lakeshore Legal Aid to continue its public service. The show is uniquely diverse in its topics; from former United States Vice President Dick Cheney speaking on the war in Iraq, to Rosa Parks on Civil Rights, to interviews with local judges, and discussions with prominent attorneys on legal issues such as Criminal Sentencing, Medicaid, Student Discipline, Marijuana and more. Past accolades include Emmy Awards from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and the Philo Farnsworth Award of excellence in community programming. The show continues with recent titles such as Macomb County Veteran’s Treatment Court, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Eviction Diversion, "To Strike at A King", the Story of the Fall of McCarthyism featuring author Michael Ranville and Hon. Kenneth Sanborn, The Federalist Papers, and interviews with U.S Congressman David Bonior, and the story of Women on the Michigan Supreme Court.
Watch Legally Speaking On Demand
In honor of the Foundation’s past president and funded through donor directed contributions, these programs have reached into area high schools to share Kim’s passion for reading and writing. Attorneys have volunteered to be in high school classrooms to read selected books such as “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” with students and lead critical thinking discussions. The students are then challenged to write essays and submit them for scholarship money.
In October of 2014, the Foundation partnered with the Michigan Supreme Court, Macomb Community College, and the Macomb County Circuit Court to host oral arguments in Macomb County. Thirty-seven Macomb County high schools were represented at the event that met the objective of enhancing students’ awareness and understanding of Michigan’s judicial system and its vital role in assuring American democracy.
The Foundation’s History Book Club has brought hundreds of community members together to explore and discuss the connection of past historical events to what is happening in our world today through reading, one of Kimberly M. Cahill’s true passions. The Foundation has partnered with Barnes & Noble bookstore in Sterling Heights, MI, where conversations are focused on constitutional history, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the courts, and other significant historical events, and why these topics are of importance today.
View Legally Speaking Episodes of the Historic Book Club
Past Book Club Events:
Eastside Kid: A Memoir of My Youth, From Detroit to Congress. Author David Bonior. Speaker, David Bonior
Arc of Justice, A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age. Author Kevin Boyle. Speaker; Dr. Casandra Ulbrich, Macomb Community College
Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever. Authors Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard. Speaker, Hon. Denis Leduc
Crusade in Europe. Author; Dwight D. Eisenhower. Speaker; John Lind, Curator, Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum.
Man’s Search for Meaning. Author; Viktor Frankl. Speaker, Hon. Antonio Viviano.
The Federalist Papers. Authors, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay.
Speakers; Hon. Carl Marlinga and Hon. Michael Warren.
To Strike At A King. Author, Michael Ranville. Speaker, Michael Ranville and Hon. Kenneth Sanborn.
The Wright Brothers. Author David McCullough. Speaker Justice David Viviano.
The Writings of Thomas Paine. Author Thomas Paine. Speaker Hon. Michael Warren.
The People’s Lawyer: The Life and Times of Frank J. Kelley. Authors, Frank J. Kelley and Jack Lessenberry. Speakers, Frank J. Kelley and Jack Lessenberry.
The Art of Power: The Political Life of Thomas Jefferson. Author John Meachum. Speaker Hon. Carl Marlinga
Frank Lloyd Wright: A Life. Author, Ada Louise Huxtable. Speaker, Eric Lundquist, Esq.
Early Organized Crime in Detroit. Author, James Buccellato, Ph.D. Speaker, James Buccelleto, Ph.D.