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​Michigan Court System


The Michigan court system, also known as the judicial branch of government, has three levels. Almost every case starts and stops in a local trial court. Appeals are heard by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. 


Scroll down for information and lessons about the judicial branch of government and the different types of state courts.


Judicial Branch of Government

About the Michigan Judicial Branch of Government


Organizational Chart​ (pdf)

Details the number of courts, judges, jurisdictions, and routes of appeals.

 

Michigan Court System (pdf)

Read-aloud book and discussion guide for elementary and up.

 

Lesson to help elementary students understand what "interpreting the law" means. Students read and interpret actual state laws (primary sources).

 

Blackline master to build the pyramid-like structure of the judicial branch of government.
 
Online game with companion lesson plans for elementary.
 
Justices and judges in Michigan are elected on a non-partisan ballot. Learn more about the election process through non-fiction text and the story of Judge Ethics. The story includes a glossary, discussion questions, and links to further information. These resources could be read aloud to elementary students or assigned as separate reading for older grades.
 
Michigan Studies (Grade 3) - Unit 5: The Government of Michigan from MC3
Multi-lesson unit about state government, including how the judicial branch of government resolves conflict.

Handbook of Legal Terms​, a legal dictionary for a nonlegal audience.

  

Michigan Supreme Court

About the Michigan Supreme Court

About Current Justices and Past Justices

 

Because the Michigan Supreme Court is an appellate court, it hears cases in proceedings called "oral arguments." It is highly recommended that you review the cases on the schedule of oral arguments before viewing with students.

  • Oral arguments are streamed live when the Michigan Supreme Court is in session (select days, October-May).
  • Archived oral arguments on the Michigan Supreme Court channel on YouTube.
  • "Oral Arguments in the Michigan Supreme Court" is a 20-minute video that describes how a case gets to the Michigan Supreme Court and the role that oral arguments play in the decision-making process. It includes excerpts of oral arguments from Wayne County v Hathcock (2004). While the video and companion discussion guide (pdf) are primarily for high school and up, the courtroom tour (8:31-9:13) is appropriate for all grades.

 

Lessons from the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society

 

 

Michigan Court of Appeals

About the Michigan Court of Appeals

 

 

Michigan Trial Courts

About the Court of Claims
 

Michigan Courts Quick Reference (pdf)

Booklet originally created for court staff that details responsibilities of various trial courts.

 

Jury Orientation (6-minute video)

An overview of jury service for those called as jurors in Michigan's state courts. The video discusses juror selection and conduct, the elements of a trial, jury deliberation, and announcement of a verdict.


Your Role as a Juror​ (pdf)

Pamphlet by the State Bar of Michigan about the role of jurors in the trial process.

 

Court Kids (wiki)

Series of lessons for elementary students from Calhoun County Courts.

 

Guide to Planning a Field Trip to District Court​ (pdf)

Detailed information about planning a visit to your local court.

 

 

MSC Learning Center

Michigan Hall of Justice

925 W. Ottawa Street

Lansing, MI 48915

Phone: (517) 373-7171

Fax: (517) 373-7615

 

Rachael Drenovsky

drenovskyr@courts.mi.gov

Amy Feinauer

feinauera@courts.mi.gov