News Item
Public to get behind-the-scenes look at their local justice system at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings on September 15

Posted: Thursday, August 24, 2017

Public to get behind-the-scenes look at their local justice system at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings on September 15

On Friday, September 15, the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings will open its doors to the public as part of a Constitution Day “Open Courthouse” event. During the event, visitors will be able to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the courthouse, hear presentations from judges and local justice system officials, and attend an information fair designed to highlight justice system programs and services available in the community. The open house event will run from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., beginning with a short welcoming presentation featuring local judges, county commissioners, and two justices from the Minnesota Supreme Court.
 
The event is being held to help mark Constitution Day, a federal day of observance during which Americans reflect on the rights and freedoms granted to them through the signing of the United States Constitution.
 
“Minnesota is fortunate to have a justice system that is recognized nationally for its innovation, effectiveness, and commitment to providing equal access to the law,” said Minnesota First Judicial District Chief Judge Kathryn D. Messerich, who is chambered in the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings. “We are excited to give our community an opportunity to see their justice system up close, and learn more about the people and partnerships that work to keep our community safe and preserve our rights and freedoms.”
 
Information about the event is posted at www.mncourts.gov/DakotaOpenCourthouse.
 
A schedule for the September 15 event is provided below:
 
Dakota County Judicial Center Open House
September 15, 2017
12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
 
12:30 p.m.
Welcoming Ceremony and Plaque Presentation (Jury Assembly Room, Lower Level)
 
The welcoming ceremony will be held in the jury assembly room located on the lower level of the Dakota County Judicial Center. The event will feature remarks by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea, Associate Justice Margaret H. Chutich, Chief Judge Messerich, and members of the Dakota County Board of Commissioners. Chief Justice Gildea will present the County with a commemorative plaque recognizing the redesign of the Judicial Center. First Judicial District Assistant Chief Judge David Knutson will close the program with a presentation about the three branches of government.
 
The ceremony is open to the public and media.
 
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Self-Guided Tours with Presentations by Local Justice System Partners
 
The public is invited take self-guided tours of the Dakota County Judicial Center anytime between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Building maps and informational brochures will be available in the jury assembly room on the lower level.
 
Throughout the building, guests will be able to learn about their justice system and county government by meeting with judges, attorneys, law enforcement, county officials, and staff.
 
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Information Fair (Lower and Middle Levels)
 
Visitors can take a self-guided walk through an information fair designed to showcase the work of many of the justice system partners in the local community, share legal resources available to the public, and highlight new advancements in criminal justice and court technology being implemented across the state. Guests can also meet an officer and dog from the Dakota County Drug Task Force.
 
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Dakota County Drug Task Force K-9 Unit (Outside the Law Enforcement Center entrance)
 
Guests can meet an officer and dog from the Dakota County Drug Task Force.
 
1 p.m. to 2 p.m.  AND 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Mock Jury Selections (Courtroom 1F, Middle Level)
 
Members of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) will educate visitors about the right to a jury trial under the 7th Amendment.  The presentation by judges and attorneys will include a mock voir dire (the preliminary examination of a juror), mock jury selection, and a short question and answer session. 
 
Address and Parking
 
The Dakota County Judicial Center is located at 1560 Highway 55 in Hastings. Directions are available at http://www.mncourts.gov/Dakota. Free public parking is available.
 
Other Information About the Event
 
For the safety of all attendees, visitors will be required to pass through a security screening checkpoint before entering the courthouse.
 
Members of the media will be allowed to bring cameras and other recording devices into the Dakota County Judicial Center during the open house, but only in areas where Open Courthouse events are being held. This does not include any courtrooms where actual court hearings are being held.