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U.S. Court For City Pushed Despite Odds

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U.S. Court For City
Pushed Despite of Odds

By Owen Eshenroder Judge Charles W Joiner, formerly act-
(News courts Reporter) ing dean of the U-M Law School and

An intensive selling job is presently dean of the Wayne Sl"*" ""'versify Law
under way locally, to convince certain School and now on th of the U.S.
federal officials that plans for th new District Court in Detroit, said he feels it
Federal Building to be erected in down- would be "wise" to have a-fcderal court
towTrAnn' Arbor' should include facilities facility in Ann Arbor, where he still re-
fora U.S. District Court. sides.

Just about everyone around Ann Arbor Although " his words carefully
seems to favor the idea, particularly at- — as it is i that not all of Joi-
torneys and other members of the local ncr's judicial colleagues favor a federal
legal establishment, but the men whose court here — he pointed out that a "sig-
endorsement is most needed — the nificant amount oi business" comes to
judges of the Sixth Circuit Court of Ap- Detroit for litigation from the Ann Arbor
peals, based in Cincinnati — apparently area.
aren't yet in a buying mood. Judge William F Ager Jr., the senior

With red tape being what it is in the duge of the Washtenaw County Circuit
?< 'i^ral bureaucracy, proponents of the Court, agreed with Joiner that a federa!
,; u admit that the battle to win such a court in Ann Arbor is justified.
court here is going to be an uphill one. "I think it would be tremendously,

"I think it's a longshot," said George helpful," he stated. "The volume of bus-
Stevens, who is administrative aide for ,
Rep. Marvin L. Esch, R-Ann Arbor.
"But if there's a chajRC^se^ftUSht not to-»
leave any stone unturned in our effo rts."

Esch's help in making government \
contacts and applying pressure has been
solicited by the supporters of the cam-
paign, who are primarily member of the
Washtenaw County Bar Association.

Stevens noted that Esch recently wrote
the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in an s
attempt to persuade the judges that a •
U.S. District Court in Ann Arbor is 'd

necessary. It was not the first such let-.I ,
ter, but there has been no response so^

"Unless we can prod those guys, we'll ,j
never get to first base," said Stevens. R
"We've got to get them off the dime."

Even if that hurdle is -successfully ^
o1'' > 1>, there are several other steps ',
w then be followed. ;

Ann Arbor has already been designat- a
ed as a place where a federal court could -|
sit, in a bill signed by President Johnson »
nine years ago. A U.S. court here would^
;" serve Washtenaw, Jackson, Livingston
and Lenawee Counties, and possibly
Monroe County.

A physical facility for the court must
be provided next, and that requirement ;

was met when a site for the new Federal ^
Building was selected early this year onJj
the block bounded by S. Fifth Avenue on '*
the east, S. Fourth Avenue on the west,
and E. Liberty Street on the north. ^

Then comes the endorsement from the |
court in Cincinnati, which is almost j
mandatory if a federal court in Ann Ar- J
bor is to be a reality, so vital is the ?
recommendation of those judges, f

Also involved in this step is gaining ^
support for the new court from the ^
judges of the U.S. District Court in De- ^
i> < nt, who would probably sit on the^
i^idi here if the court is eventually buill^l
and whose opinion on the necessity of |
such a court in Ann Arbor is considered
' .the Cincinnati judges. ^

hi ite,final analysis, whether the court!
receives the thumbs-up sign depends on |
fu'Ttin'? '"""•'oval, regulated by an ad-
rs i'fice in the Supreme Court
Building m Washington, D.C. That office
would direct the General Services Ad-
ministration to allocate money for the
project, but obviously, a court facility re-
presents an additional construction ex^
pense. '1|

Stevens explained that plans for which *
governmental offices will be located in ^
the Federal Building are far from final, ";,
but space for a court there was not in- \
•eluded in the preliminary scheme ot ^
things. "It's not a closed book," he em- ',
-*-t)hasized. ^

Should Ann Arbor receive a federal "
court, it would not automatically create a
new judgeship. The c' 'e would ;

function as a branch oi ••> federal i
court, with sessions held maybe once a 1
week or so and presided over by the A
judges from Detroit on a rotating basis. |

It is also possible that retired federal ,
judges, who are appointed for life and
remain on call for limited duty even aft- :|
er retirement, could be used to staff the |
bench here until a full-time judge is fi- |
nally appointed sometime^ the future. |

iness from this area makes it necessary,
and I'm certainly in favor of it."

Local lawyers are almost unamimous
in their support of the idea. A U.S. Dis-
trict Court here would be convenient for
them, saving driving time into Detroit to
hands there.

But isociation President John D.
McCormick claimed that the attorneys
support is not entirely self-serving. "It
would be more convenient for the rest of
the community, too," he said. "If an at-
torney doesn't have to take time to drive
into Detroit for a case, he doesn't have to
charge his client for that time."

McCormick further noted that the
court would benefit students in the U-M
L;nv Schont hy affording them the oppor-
tuiiiiy it, ;n,."iy its operation in the course
of their work, and would aid in the revi-
talization of downtown Ann Arbor.

Guy C. Larcom Jr., executive director
of Ann Arbor Tomorrow, concurred on
this point.

"The main advantage to us of a court
in the Federal BuiS have downtown An»i Atin>r eyn&idered
the governmental center. The more gov-
ernmental offices that locate there, the
more the importance of the downtown is
increased," he said. i

Larcom added that negotiai. r lO |
close the purchase of the property on
which the Federal Building is to be con-
structed are nearly completed, and said
he hopes razing of the old buildings on,
the site can begin by next spring. |

Local attorney Clair E. Paulson was a
recently named by McCormick to head a
special committee of the Bar Association
formed to. work toward the establishment
of :.< ft'/lpral court here. He con(c: ' •' '.^
vv>.» shortsighted for the i
Building ' -itain a court facility.

"Some ; ( r government officials
plan for yesterday instead of for the fu-
ture," Paulson said. "The great popula-
tion growth is certainly in this county,
and so this court is going to be needed
even more as time goes on. The Federal
Building cnuM h?» obsolete by the time it
opens its e

According to raulson, "When this was
announced, people in the community'
couldn't believe there w •'•• .^ K to build
a Federal Building with irt."

He estimates his committee has ap-
proximately six months to sell federal of-
ficials on the need for a court here be-
fore plans for the Federal Building are
finalized. "We'll step up the pressures as
we see it's needed," Paulson said.
"We're determined not to let this thing

While the Bar Association has already
passed a resolution backing efforts to
bring a federal court to Ann Arbor, and
McCormick has presented Mayor James
E. Stephenson with a proclamation of
city support for the idea, Paulson said it
is conceivable that a broader public
showing of support might be sought in
th" '-"w'Tiumty.

cally, Paulson mentioned a
cii.v-wide petition drive for signatures of
citizens who endorse the idea as a possi-
bility if favorably influencing the uiti- .

If a U.S. District Court here would be
such a boon to the city, who then might
be opposed to it?

"Maybe some old judges in Detroit
who are resistant to change or don't like
the thought of driving out here to sit,"
said Paulson. "They could nick
gut reaction against it wiliiuiii n-'ally
considering the idea."

He expressed some doubt that "•'lrT"c;

in Cincinnati or Detroit actual):

stood the needs of Ann Arbor. • iviayne •
the decision is misplaced," Paulson stat-
ed. "I'm amazed that the discretion for
this thing rests solely with the judges."

Another strike against the city's
chances for a federal court is the nation-
wide trend to limit rather than expand
the number of U.S. District Courts. Join-
er pointed out that a complete reorgani-
zation of the federal court system has
been reposed.

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