The Michigan Hall of Justice, dedicated in 2002, is headquarters of the state’s judicial branch of government. It houses the Michigan Supreme Court, Court of Appeals (District IV), the State Court Administrative Office, and a museum-style Learning Center gallery.
Court sessions are open to the public, and free, guided tours of the Learning Center can be scheduled on weekdays, except court holidays.
All visitors must enter through the east doors (facing the State Capitol) and pass through a security check. Government ID is required; no weapons are permitted in the building.
Capped by a glass dome and clad in limestone, the six-story Hall of Justice faces the State Capitol, independent yet in relation to the locations of the executive and legislative branches of government – symbolic of how Michigan’s government works. Although the exterior is postmodern, the interior design is reminiscent of the Capitol, home of the Supreme Court, 1879-1970. Central rotundas feature marble and granite flooring, and portraits of former Supreme Court Justices adorn the walls. The Supreme Court courtroom (6th floor) and the Court of Appeals courtroom (2nd floor) are appointed with mahogany paneling, silk wall coverings, and reproduction Victorian carpeting.
The Learning Center gallery (1st floor) educates the public about the judicial branch of government and is filled with hands-on activities for visitors from elementary-age to adult. It features exhibits on many topics, including the history and role of courts in Michigan, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Lady Justice stands at the entrance, and a model trial court courtroom lets visitors play different roles.
The Hall of Justice is the first building dedicated solely to the state’s judicial branch. After the Supreme Court reluctantly left the State Capitol in 1970 for temporary quarters in the G. Mennen Williams Building, it took many years and various plans before both the political will and the funds came together.
Located at the west end of the Capitol Complex, the Hall of Justice completes a plan for downtown Lansing suggested in the 1920s by city planning pioneer Harland Bartholomew. He believed a capitol mall similar to that of Washington, D.C., would not only accommodate the functions of state government and its employees, the arrangement would give government its due place of honor, instead of inserting it around existing structures and infrastructure. The change in the city’s core has been so great that visitors from earlier eras would hardly recognize the area from one time period to the next.
Once forest and then farmland at the edge of the city, in the 20th century the Hall of Justice’s eight acres featured single- and multi-family houses, a neighborhood school (at Michigan Ave. and Logan St., now Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.), and small businesses such as a grocery store (at Allegan St. and Logan St.) and a pharmacy with soda fountain, a dry cleaners, and an insurance agency (at Ottawa St. and Butler Blvd.) Beginning in the late 1960s, state government acquired and removed all of these properties to eventually construct the Hall of Justice.
At the building’s groundbreaking in 1999 and at its dedication in 2002 the Michigan Supreme Court acknowledged the former neighborhood and what citizens gave up in order for the judicial branch of government to do justice. Staff and visitors alike appreciate the stately structure and its role as the headquarters of the state’s courts.