Some residents in Dallas County are spending their weekends getting a crash course in ways to better navigate the civil court system. The classes are part of a three-week Citizens’ Civil Academy hosted by Judge Staci Williams.

The Frank Crowley and George Allen, Sr. court buildings are familiar, yet, intimidating places for some people.

"Everybody really knows about the criminal area, but the civil is just different," said David Hurley.

Hurley believes knowing the ins-and-outs and navigating the court system can be challenging.

That is why Judge Staci Williams is leading another Citizens’ Civil Academy. He mission is making sure community members have the tools to get a basic understanding of civil court procedures.

"You turn on the news every day, you all cover the murders, the rapes, and the drugs at Frank Crowley," Williams said. "But very rarely are there stories about what goes on at George Allen building, or exactly what even is a civil case.”

Judge Williams presides over the 101st District Court. Her self-funded outreach program gives residents the option of attending one to three free classes around Dallas County. Participants discuss a variety of issues, including the jury process, contracts, how to file lawsuits, check active warrants, and the pros and cons of representing themselves in court, among other things.

Shirl Solomon has been attending the Academy for two weeks.

"A lot of times we get caught up in the law and we violate, basically, because we don’t know what the laws are," Solomon said.

Solomon takes criminal justice classes online. She says the Citizens’ Civil Academy is making her a well-rounded student.

"I’m getting the criminal side of it, but I really just want to learn the law side, period," Solomon said. "Because I’m more interested in the law.”

The Citizens’ Civil Academy is a one of a kind program in Dallas County.

”She brings it down to the level where you can understand how it all works,” Hurley said.

Participants also get access to a variety of resources available to the public.

Dallas County residents interested in learning more about the Citizens Civil Academy can visit the program’s website: