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Learn how the judicial system works during Citizens’ Law Academy


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IDAHO FALLS – A free seven-week course is being offered for everyone who takes “democracy seriously.”

Those attending the Citizens’ Law Academy will learn more about how the judicial system works or what their rights are under the law.

The 7th District Bar Association will present the classes at the Bonneville County Courthouse beginning later this month.

Alan Johnston, association president, tells that lawmakers, attorneys, judges and others will present information each week to give participants a better understanding of how the local judicial system works.

“It’s intended to be really intriguing, question-and-answer based, and educational and entertaining at the same time,” Johnston says.

Topics that will be covered will include everything from how laws are created in the state to the adversarial and appeals process. There will also be individual classes on criminal litigation and civil litigation, trials, and probate and family law.

The list of speakers includes Idaho Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill, Idaho Supreme Court Justice Gregory Moeller, U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Randy Smith, 7th Judicial Magistrate Judge Michelle Mallard and several local attorneys.

“We’ll provide materials to the participants that will include hand-outs. People who participate will walk away with a binder full of great information for future reference, based on what they learned,” says Johnston.

The classes will be held in the Centennial Courtroom of the Bonneville County Courthouse at 605 North Capital Avenue in Idaho Falls. They begin Wednesday, Sept. 25, and will continue for seven weeks. The classes will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday nights. Refreshments are served at each class.

The academy’s last class will be Nov. 6. Participants will receive a certificate at a graduation ceremony when they complete the course.

“This is for everyone who takes our democracy seriously. And they will then be more informed citizens going forward,” Johnston says. “We encourage everyone to participate. I’ve never had someone participate and regret it. Everyone who does comes away feeling enriched and having really enjoyed the class.”

Citizens’ Laws Academy is held every odd year. It is open to anyone 18 and up, especially those living within the 7th District Bar Association’s jurisdiction, which includes Bingham, Bonneville, Butte, Custer, Jefferson, Madison, Clark, Fremont, Lemhi, and Teton Counties. Between 30 and 35 people typically attend, but there is room for up to 50.

To register, contact Amanda Ulrich for an application. She can be reached by phone at (208) 524-0566 or email The deadline to apply is Monday, Sept. 23.