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National Court Observance Week 2018
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October 9-13, 2017
Theme: Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom

Gerald R. Ford
XXXVIII President of the United States: 1974-1977
Proclamation 4327 – National Legal Secretaries’ Court Observance Week, 1974
October 14, 1974

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Our vast and complex system of justice cannot function without the skill and dedication of our Nation’s legal secretaries. Without these unsung heroes of the legal process, the wheels of justice would grind to a permanent halt. They deserve the praise, gratitude and respect not only of their employers but of the system which they serve so well. One way in which their employers can demonstrate their appreciation for jobs well done is by giving their legal secretaries greater opportunities to observe courtroom proceedings—to see more of the system in action.

To pay tribute to this fine group of Americans and to encourage their exposure to courtroom proceedings, the Congress by House Joint Resolution 898 of the Ninety-third Congress, has requested the President to proclaim the second full week of October [1974], as National Legal Secretaries’ Court Observance Week.

Today, 44 years after the proclamation was signed, NALS continues each year to recognize the second full week of October as Court Observance Week. NALS members have upheld the legacy established by this proclamation by sponsoring and participating in themed activities that promote understanding of courtroom procedures. The 2018 Court Observance Week theme, Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom, is based on the American Bar Association's Law Day 2018 theme, in which NALS is participating as an Alliance Partner (www.lawday.org).

The U.S. Constitution sets out a system of government with distinct and independent branches—Congress, the Presidency, and a Supreme Court. It also defines legislative, executive, and judicial powers and outlines how they interact. These three separate branches share power, and each branch serves as a check on the power of the others. “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” James Madison explained in Federalist 51. Why? Madison believed that the Constitution’s principles of separation of powers and checks and balances preserve political liberty. They provide a framework for freedom. Yet, this framework is not self-executing. We the people must continually act to ensure that our constitutional democracy endures, preserving our liberties and advancing our rights. The Law Day 2018 theme enables us to reflect on the separation of powers as fundamental to our constitutional purpose and to consider how our governmental system is working for ourselves and our posterity.


How will your chapter recognize this event?

 We encourage every NALS member, chapter, and committee to organize, publicize, and participate in an event during the week of October 8-12, 2018, in celebration of the constitutional freedoms our courts protect.  Our courts must be open and available to accomplish that goal. Some of your events could include: mock trial for staff members in your firm and invite staff members from other firms in your area to attend as well. Coordinate and promote a courthouse tour. The possibilities are limited only by your creativity and dedication.

For more ideas, check out what other chapters have done in the past. An internet search using the term “court observance week” will produce several useful links. And while you’re there, take time to read the full text of President Ford’s proclamation on The American Presidency Project’s website.

It’s just another reminder of the importance of your contribution to the legal community.

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