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AG Derek Schmidt, District Judge Douglas Witteman to host exhibit on the Magna Carta

Release Date: Feb 22, 2017

OTTAWA – (February 22, 2017) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and District Judge Douglas Witteman will host a local display on the history of the Magna Carta – the 13th century document which set the course for democracy in England, and greatly influenced democracy in the United States.

The exhibit will be on display in the historic Franklin County Courthouse from March 1 to 31. School classes, youth groups, civic clubs and members of the public are invited to visit the display during regular courthouse hours, 8 a.m. to 4: 30 p.m.

“While the Magna Carta began as a series of grievances from barons in medieval England, the fundamental rights that were laid out in that document were later echoed in our own Declaration of Independence, and have been symbolic of liberty and democracy,” Schmidt said. “I encourage civic clubs, educators and other interested citizens to use this opportunity to discuss our civic history and to engage in learning about the precious system of self-government we have inherited from those who came before.”

The Magna Carta has also had great influence on the development of laws.

“The collective genius of our nation’s founding fathers is memorialized in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” Witteman said. “The Magna Carta is a portion of the deep historical roots that provided their inspiration that still manifests the liberty and justice enjoyed by Americans today.”

Schmidt and Witteman encouraged all local residents, and particularly students, to visit the display and learn more about the Magna Carta’s legacy. The attorney general and the judge also said they would help arrange presentations about civics and the rule of law for civic clubs, school groups and other interested Franklin County organizations during the month the Magna Carta display is in Ottawa. Those interested in requesting a presentation may contact John Steelman, District Court Administrator, by phone at 785-242-6000 or by email at

The exhibit was produced by the American Bar Association in honor of the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary in 2015. Although that anniversary has passed, the exhibit is on traveling display. More information about the display and the Magna Carta is available on the attorney general’s website at

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