Michigan Supreme Court Historical Reference Guide, 2nd Edition

Michigan Supreme Court Historical Reference Guide, 2nd Edition

David G. Chardavoyne
with Paul Moreno
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 328
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/j.ctt13x0pdf
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  • Book Info
    Michigan Supreme Court Historical Reference Guide, 2nd Edition
    Book Description:

    This second edition of theMichigan Supreme Court Historical Reference Guidecontains the biographies of Michigan Supreme Court's justices from its territorial beginnings in 1803 through 2015. It includes summaries of twenty top cases of the Michigan Supreme Court, which contextualize the eras in which the justices were on the bench, giving a greater depth of understanding to both who the justices were and the historical significance of the cases they decided. A rich reference for historians and attorneys, this book also includes valuable charts detailing election dates and candidates as well as court compositions (who served with whom); lists of chief justices and the ten longest-and shortest-serving justices with dates of service; and a history of the structural evolution of the Michigan Supreme Court.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-441-5
    Subjects: History, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    WALLACE D. RILEY

    The originalMichigan Supreme Court Historical Reference Guidewas published in 1998. At that time the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society had been in existence for ten years, and the court had just welcomed its one hundredth justice. The book was the work product of our first two executive directors, Ellen Campbell and Jill Wright, and our first Coleman intern, Jill Moore. And for more than fifteen years it has served as a valuable research tool for attorneys and scholars who wished to know more about the Michigan Supreme Court.

    Now comes the new edition. Researched by Michigan legal history...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    DAVID G. CHARDAVOYNE

    The second edition of theMichigan Supreme Court Historical Reference Guideis a compilation of two of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society’s publications:

    TheReference Guide’s first edition, published in 1998, researched by Jill K. Moore, edited by Ellen Campbell, biographies of the justices (many compiled by Ann Lucas, Serials Librarian of Thomas M. Cooley Law School), and appendices listing the supreme court’s special sessions honoring past justices and the composition of the court by year.

    TheVerdict of History, an account and analysis of some of the supreme court’s most notable cases, written by Professor Paul Moreno of...

  5. Structural Evolution of the Michigan Supreme Court
    (pp. 1-6)

    The 1805 federal statute creating the territory of Michigan provided (by reference to the Northwest Ordinance) for a court of three judges with “a common-law jurisdiction” whose “commissions shall continue in force during good behavior,” and who would, with the territorial governor, also constitute the territorial legislature.¹ On February 26, 1805, President Thomas Jefferson nominated Samuel Huntington, Frederick Bates, and Augustus B. Woodward as the court’s first judges. Huntington refused the appointment, as did other appointees. As a result, the court had only two judges until March 29, 1806, when Jefferson appointed John Griffin of Indiana to the court, although...

  6. Chief and Presiding Judges and Justices
    (pp. 7-13)

    During most of the life of the territorial and state Michigan Supreme Court, one member of the court has been designated as nominal head of the court, as a first among equals. Over the court’s more than two hundred years these have been called chief justice, chief judge, and presiding judge, and their method of selection has changed several times.

    The 1805 federal act that created the territory and the territorial supreme court did not distinguish among the three judges, but shortly after the court’s first session the legislative council, consisting of the supreme court judges and the governor, passed...

  7. The Ten Longest and Ten Shortest Tenures on the Michigan Supreme Court
    (pp. 14-14)
  8. JUSTICE BIOGRAPHIES
    • Augustus Brevoort Woodward
      (pp. 17-18)

      In the words of a nineteenth-century supreme court historian, Augustus B. Woodward “left his surname to the principal avenue of Detroit and his ineffable mark upon that city in the concentric scheme on which he laid it out…. He was a marvel of personal untidiness even among pioneers and his imperious will was such that no mortal man could get along with him unless he submitted to it.”¹ Born, raised, and educated in New York City as Elias Brevoort Woodward, in about 1791 he changed his first name to Augustus (as more dignified) and followed the federal government to its...

    • Frederick Bates
      (pp. 19-19)

      Frederick Bates was born on his family plantation, Belmont, in Goochland County, Virginia, not far from Richmond, into a family that was constantly in financial distress. Frederick, one of twelve children, received the rudiments of a classical education, but his father could not afford to send him to college. Instead, he was apprenticed to the clerk of the county court where he studied law. After a short stint as the local postmaster in 1796, he was hired by the quartermaster of the Army of the Northwest headquartered in Detroit. In 1800, he resigned from the army and opened a store,...

    • John Griffin
      (pp. 20-21)

      John Griffin’s father was Cyrus Griffin of Virginia and his mother Christina Stuart, daughter of John Stuart, sixth earl of Traquair, in Scotland. Cyrus was studying law in Edinburgh, and Christina’s brother, a classmate, invited him to visit Traquair House, the Earl’s country estate. There he met and fell in love with Christina; not long after, they married, despite her father’s vehement objections—the Stuarts were aristocratic and Catholic, while Cyrus was a commoner and a Protestant. John Griffin was born a year later, apparently at Traquair House. In 1773, the Griffin family returned to Virginia where Cyrus prospered in...

    • James Witherell
      (pp. 22-22)

      James Witherell served through the greater part of the Revolutionary War and was severely wounded at the Battle of White Plains. He studied medicine and law and settled in Vermont where he served as a judge and member of both the Governor’s Council and the Vermont Legislature before being elected to Congress in 1807. On the recommendation of Nathaniel Chipman (father of future Michigan Territorial Supreme Court Judge Henry C. Chipman), President Thomas Jefferson appointed Witherell in April 1808 to replace Frederick Bates as one of the judges of the supreme court for the territory of Michigan. Witherell found his...

    • John Hunt
      (pp. 23-23)

      According to U.S. census records, John Hunt was in his forties when he arrived in Detroit in 1818 or 1819, but other facts regarding his date and place of birth and his life before coming to Michigan are lost. As an adult, Hunt was tall and thin, standing about five feet eleven inches and weighing around 155 pounds. He was “dignified in bearing, straight as an arrow, of medium complexion, dark-brown hair, bright blue eyes and clean shaven face.”² Upon his arrival in Michigan, he began a very successful law practice with Charles Larned, but he dissolved the practice in...

    • Solomon Sibley
      (pp. 24-24)

      A graduate of what is now Brown University, Solomon Sibley read law in Massachusetts and at Marietta, Ohio, and then opened a law practice in Cincinnati, the capital of the Northwest Territory. Seeing greater opportunities in newly liberated Detroit, he moved his practice there in April 1798, becoming the second American lawyer in Michigan after Elijah Brush. When the supreme court of the territory of Michigan opened in 1805, they were still the only attorneys on its rolls. Soon after his arrival in Detroit, Sibley became involved in government and in December 1798 was elected as a delegate to the...

    • Henry C. Chipman
      (pp. 25-25)

      Henry C. Chipman’s father was Nathaniel Chipman, a well-known judge, U.S. Senator, and legal writer of his day who prepared his son for a legal career. After graduation from Middlebury, Henry read law with his father for three years and was admitted to the bar. For his health, he spent a year in Jamaica and then moved to South Carolina where he married and taught school for a year. In 1809 he opened a law practice in Waterborough, South Carolina, that he continued until 1824 except for six months’ service during the War of 1812. In 1824 he moved to...

    • William D. Woodbridge
      (pp. 26-26)

      Few public careers can equal that of William Woodbridge. After attending America’s first law school, he began a prosperous law practice in Marietta, Ohio, and served in several government positions. However, he reluctantly gave in to the urging of his friend Lewis Cass to move to Michigan as territorial secretary to try to rebuild from the devastation caused by the British invasion and occupation of Michigan. He was appointed by President James Madison and confirmed by the Senate on October 5, 1814. While secretary of the territory, Woodbridge also served for a year as Michigan’s nonvoting delegate to Congress. However,...

    • George Morell
      (pp. 27-27)

      George Morell (also often spelled Morrell) was born in Lenox, Massachusetts, in 1786. He was educated at Lenox Academy and at Williams College, went on to study law in Troy, New York, and then moved to Cooperstown, New York, where he practiced law and was involved in Democratic politics from 1811 to 1832. In January 1832, President Andrew Jackson decided not to reappoint William Woodbridge and Henry Chipman, both Whigs, to Michigan’s territorial supreme court and instead appointed two Democrats, George Morell and Ross Wilkins, who were confirmed by the U.S. Senate in April 1832. Jackson reappointed Morell in January...

    • Ross Wilkins
      (pp. 28-28)

      The services of Ross Wilkins to Michigan covered two of its most critical periods, the transition from territory to statehood and the growing discord over slavery. Although born to a wealthy and politically prominent family, Wilkins was an early disciple of President Andrew Jackson in his opposition to wealth and privilege as oppressive and perilous to civil society. Seeking to replace two Whigs on Michigan’s territorial supreme court (Judges Chipman and Woodbridge), President Jackson appointed Wilkins to a four-year term on the territorial supreme court beginning February 1, 1832, although the Senate did not confirm the appointment until April 26,...

    • William Asa Fletcher
      (pp. 29-29)

      As the first chief justice of the state of Michigan’s Supreme Court, William Asa Fletcher had the important task of ushering Michigan’s territorial judiciary into the new era. Born in 1788 in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Fletcher read law in Tarleton, New York, but by 1821 he had established himself in a Detroit law office. In 1823, Governor Lewis Cass appointed him chief justice of Wayne County’s criminal court, known as the county court. In 1825, Fletcher became the attorney general of the territory, a part-time job so that he continued to practice law in Detroit. From 1833 to 1836, he...

    • Epaphroditus Ransom
      (pp. 30-31)

      Epaphroditus Ransom was born in 1798 in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, but his family moved to Townshend, Vermont, where he was raised, worked on the farm, and taught school. In 1823 he graduated from America’s first law school, the Howe and Mills Law School of Northampton, Massachusetts, and returned to Vermont to practice law. He prospered and was elected to the Vermont Legislature, but in 1834 he decided to follow some of his siblings to the territory of Michigan, specifically to what was then the town of Bronson, now Kalamazoo. He began practicing law in the area, as well as involving...

    • Charles Wiley Whipple
      (pp. 32-32)

      Charles W. Whipple was born in 1805 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father, Major John Whipple, was posted. In 1806 or 1807, John Whipple left the army and moved his family to Detroit. John Whipple served as a major in the Michigan militia (1807–1808), and in 1809 he was an associate judge of the territorial district court for the District of Huron and Detroit. Charles Whipple attended a private school in Detroit, and in 1822 he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, but he did not graduate. Instead, he returned to Detroit, read law, and began...

    • Alpheus Felch
      (pp. 33-33)

      Alpheus Felch was orphaned at a very early age and had poor health as a child, yet he accomplished a long and distinguished career before his death at age ninety-one. After graduation from Bowdoin College and a short time practicing law in Maine, he decided to move to Mississippi for his health, but got only as far as Cincinnati where he caught cholera. After recovering, he decided a better idea was to go north to Michigan where he settled in Monroe. Shortly after his arrival in Monroe, Felch took the position of village attorney. He then served in the Michigan...

    • Daniel Goodwin
      (pp. 34-34)

      Daniel Goodwin was born in Geneva, New York, graduated from Union College, read law, and joined the New York Bar. He came to Michigan in 1825 to probate his father’s estate and decided to stay. He was admitted to practice in Michigan’s territorial supreme court in October 1826. He earned an excellent reputation in Michigan and was elected a delegate to three constitutional conventions. Before Michigan became a state, he was appointed its U.S. attorney and, after statehood, its U.S. district attorney. He held those parttime positions and continued his practice until July 1843 when Governor Barry appointed him an...

    • Warner Wing
      (pp. 35-36)

      A native of Ohio, Wing arrived alone in the territory of Michigan in 1817, at the age of twelve. He settled in the city of Monroe, a few years later began to read law under William Woodbridge, and attended the nation’s first law school in Massachusetts. He was admitted to the bar of the territorial supreme court in December 1827 and worked as an attorney in private practice. According to contemporaries, Wing was a man of remarkably fine physique, pleasing address, sanguine and impulsive temperament, and an almost feminine sensibility, who overflowed with genial wit and humor. In 1845, Governor...

    • George Miles
      (pp. 37-37)

      George Miles was born in Amsterdam, New York, on April 5, 1789. According to Justice B. F. H. Witherell, “In early life Miles had to rely on his own resources, and to fight the battle of life unaided, which he did manfully, and this early training gave to his character an energy and self-reliance which it sustained throughout.”⁵ He did not begin to study law until later in his life and was not admitted to the bar until the age of thirty-three. For a time he was district attorney for Allegany County, New York, but in May 1837 he moved...

    • Sanford Moon Green
      (pp. 38-39)

      Sanford Green’s father was a farmer of small means in northeastern New York State who could not afford to educate his son beyond the rudiments, so Sanford left his home at sixteen to acquire an education and better his fortunes. After a period of teaching school, he began reading law and was admitted to practice in Rochester, New York, in 1834. In 1837, he relocated to Owosso, Michigan, and in 1842, he was elected to the state senate. At the time his first term ended in 1844, the legislature was in the midst of codifying the state statutes for the...

    • Edward Mundy
      (pp. 40-40)

      Edward Mundy arrived in the Michigan Territory in 1831 when he was thirty-six or thirty-seven years old. He originally settled in Ann Arbor as a merchant, but in 1834 he was admitted to practice law. He quickly gained political prominence; he was appointed a justice of the peace by Governor Stevens T. Mason, elected as delegate from Washtenaw County to the 1835 constitutional convention, and then elected lieutenant governor on the ticket with Governor Mason. In 1847, Governor William L. Greenly appointed him prosecuting attorney and then Michigan attorney general. In April 1848, the increasing needs of the state led...

    • Abner Pratt
      (pp. 41-42)

      Abner Pratt had no formal schooling but eventually read law at Batavia, New York, later practicing in Rochester, New York, as district attorney. He liked what he saw of Michigan on a business trip in 1839 and resigned his post in New York to move to Marshall, Michigan, where in 1844 he was elected state senator. A Democrat, he hated abolitionism with a passion, and he often represented slave owners trying to recover runaways, using a style of speech classified as sarcastic, argumentative, and vehement. In 1850, Governor John S. Barry appointed Pratt to the Michigan Supreme Court to succeed...

    • John Skinner Goodrich
      (pp. 43-43)

      In April 1851, John Goodrich was elected judge of the Seventh Circuit Court, which, under the constitution of 1850, made him also a judge of the Michigan Supreme Court. However, he died in Detroit before his term began and never took the oath of office. He was born near Buffalo, New York, where he studied law, and came to Michigan in 1836. His contemporaries remembered him as an earnest student, especially excelling in mathematics, although he had a limited formal education. In Michigan he completed his legal studies in Pontiac while working as a civil engineer for the Port Huron...

    • George Martin
      (pp. 44-44)

      George Martin was born in 1815, in Middlebury, Vermont, and graduated from Middlebury College when he was only eighteen years old. After reading law, he moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1837 where he practiced law and lived for the rest of his life. In addition to his practice, Martin served in public office for several years, notably as justice of the peace. It is reported that he also sold insurance and real estate. In his early years, Martin established a statewide reputation as an equity practitioner. In 1848, he was elected judge of the Kent County (Criminal) Court, and...

    • David Johnson
      (pp. 45-45)

      In 1824, David Johnson began to study law and was soon admitted to the New York Bar. He left New York in 1837, lived in Ohio for a year, and moved to Jackson, Michigan, in 1838. There he established a law practice that lasted almost fifty years; he also became involved in politics. He was active in the fight to move the state capital from Detroit to central Michigan, initially favoring Jackson as the site but eventually agreeing on Lansing as the final choice. In April 1851, Johnson was elected circuit judge and therefore, under the 1850 constitution, also to...

    • Joseph Tarr Copeland
      (pp. 46-46)

      Joseph Copeland’s family was not well off, but his grandfather left him five hundred dollars to attend college. Copeland attended Harvard University and later read law with Daniel Webster. While with Webster, Copeland was sent to Michigan on a “secret mission” by President Andrew Jackson. He must have liked what he saw of the state, because he returned and settled in St. Clair in 1844. He was always very interested in business and profitable ventures, including the first saw mill in Bay City. In 1846, Copeland was elected judge of the St. Clair County Court and served until 1849. Two...

    • Samuel Townsend Douglass
      (pp. 47-47)

      Samuel T. Douglass was born in Wallingford, Vermont, but his parents later moved to Fredonia, New York, where Douglass spent his early years. He was educated at Fredonia Academy, later studying law in the office of James Mullet, who was for many years a judge of the supreme court of New York. Douglass came to Detroit in 1837 and was admitted to practice as an attorney later in that same year. In 1847, he became the reporter of decisions for the Michigan Supreme Court. Except for a brief time spent working in Ann Arbor, Douglass practiced his profession, as both...

    • Nathaniel Bacon
      (pp. 48-48)

      Nathaniel Bacon was born on July 14, 1802, in Ballston Spa, New York, to a farm family. After graduation from Union College in 1824, he read law, and in 1828 he opened a law office in Rochester, New York. In 1833, Bacon moved his family to a four-hundred-acre farm east of Niles, Michigan, where he farmed and built a thriving law practice, including service as prosecuting attorney and judge of probate for Berrien County. Bacon was known for his pro-temperance and antislavery views, which led him to help organize the Republican Party. In 1855, Governor Bingham appointed him to replace...

    • Edward Hancock Custis Wilson Jr.
      (pp. 49-49)

      Edward Hancock Custis Wilson (also spelled Willson) Jr. arrived in Hillsdale County, Michigan, from Maryland in 1845, one of the first attorneys in the county. Wilson served as prosecuting attorney of Hillsdale County for one term. In November 1856, after Warner Wing resigned from the circuit and supreme court bench to go into business, Wilson was elected his successor and served out Wing’s term ending December 31, 1857. Wilson chose not to run for a seat on the new separate supreme court in April 1857 and instead was reelected circuit judge in Hillsdale. Wilson did not seek reelection in 1863...

    • Josiah Turner
      (pp. 50-50)

      Josiah Turner grew up on a series of Vermont farms. He read law with his uncle, a Vermont Supreme Court justice. In 1840 he left Vermont and moved to Howell, Michigan, where he continued practicing law and became involved in politics. In May 1857 Governor Bingham appointed Turner to serve out the unexpired portion of Sanford Green’s term on the Seventh Circuit Court and supreme court, ending December 31, 1857. The governor chose Turner because he had won election to a term as judge of the Seventh Circuit Court to begin January 1, 1858. He continued as judge of that...

    • Benjamin Franklin Hawkins Witherell
      (pp. 51-51)

      Benjamin Franklin Hawkins Witherell was born on August 4, 1797, in Fair Haven, Vermont, the second son of Judge James Witherell, who came to Detroit in 1808 as a territorial judge of Michigan. The Witherell family followed in 1810, only to return to the peace and quiet of Vermont in 1812 when war in Michigan was imminent and not reuniting in Detroit until 1817. Young Witherell studied law in his father’s office and was admitted to the bar of the territorial supreme court in 1819. For the next twelve years, Witherell filled the offices of probate judge and prosecuting attorney...

    • Edwin Lawrence
      (pp. 52-52)

      Edwin Lawrence was a pioneer in Michigan before it was a state and one of only six lawyers in Washtenaw County in 1832. Lawrence was born in February 1808 in Middlebury, Vermont, and moved to Michigan in 1832, settled in Ann Arbor, and lived there for the rest of his life. Between 1835 and 1840 he published theMichigan Journal, a Whig newspaper. Lawrence enjoyed a highly successful career as an attorney and a very favorable reputation in the community. In 1844 and 1846 he ran unsuccessfully as the Whig candidate for Congress. From January 1, 1852, until December 31,...

    • Benjamin Franklin Graves
      (pp. 53-53)

      Benjamin F. Graves was born in Rochester, New York, on October 18, 1817. As a young man his health was precarious, and he turned to law to escape manual labor. In 1837, he commenced the study of law, and in 1841 he was admitted to the New York Bar. In 1843, he moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, and began a small law practice. He was the first of Michigan’s Big Four to sit on the supreme court, although his initial experience was short. In April 1857, Judge Abner Pratt of the Fifth Circuit Court (and thus also of the supreme...

    • Randolph Manning
      (pp. 54-54)

      After reading law in New York, Randolph Manning came to Michigan in 1832 and began to practice law in Pontiac. Manning was elected senator from the fifth district in 1837, and in 1838 Governor Stevens T. Mason appointed him secretary of state. In 1842 Governor John S. Barry appointed him chancellor of the court of chancery. In 1842 he also served briefly as a regent of the University of Michigan but resigned later that same year. In 1847 Manning was appointed reporter of the supreme court and held the office until the close of 1850. Although he had been a...

    • Isaac Peckham Christiancy
      (pp. 55-55)

      Isaac Peckham Christiancy was born and raised in rural Fulton County, New York, on the state border with Vermont. At thirteen years of age, he became the principal support of his family and began teaching school to support his family. He began his study of law at the age of twenty-three in 1835, and he moved to Monroe, Michigan, in 1836 to open the law practice that he maintained for almost twenty years. He was prosecuting attorney for Monroe County from 1841 until 1846, and he served in the state senate from 1850 to 1852. Christiancy’s vehement opposition to slavery...

    • James Valentine Campbell
      (pp. 56-56)

      James Valentine Campbell, one of the supreme court’s Big Four, served on the court for more than three decades. He was born on February 25, 1823, in Buffalo, New York. While he was still an infant, his family relocated to Detroit where he resided until his death. Campbell was admitted to the Detroit Bar in 1844 and practiced law until he was elected to the new separate Michigan Supreme Court in 1857. He was reelected four times, in 1863, 1871, 1879, and 1887. He died in office in 1890 during his fifth term on the court after thirty-two years on...

    • Thomas McIntyre Cooley
      (pp. 57-58)

      Thomas McIntyre Cooley was born on January 6, 1824, in Attica, New York. He taught school in order to earn money to obtain his education. Cooley planned to continue his studies in Chicago, but during his travels in 1843 he ran out of funds and settled in Adrian, Michigan, where he completed his law studies and was admitted to the bar in 1846. During his years in Adrian, he built his practice, served as deputy county clerk and as court commissioner and recorder for Adrian, edited an abolitionist newspaper, theAdrian Watchtower, and cultivated his onehundred-acre farm. For a while...

    • Isaac Marston
      (pp. 59-59)

      A native of the village of Poyntzpass, on the border between County Armagh and County Down, Isaac Marston immigrated to the United States at the age of sixteen and began work on an uncle’s farm near Pontiac, Michigan. Marston graduated in 1861 as a member of the second class of the University of Michigan’s Law Department and settled in the village of Ithaca in Gratiot County but soon moved to Bay City where the timber boom was at its beginnings. Success came with the partnership he formed in 1863 with another young lawyer named Hershel H. Hatch. In 1872, Thomas...

    • Thomas Russell Sherwood
      (pp. 60-60)

      Thomas Russell Sherwood was born in Pleasant Valley, New York, where his early summers were spent on a farm and the winters in local academies. He read law and was admitted to the bar in Rochester, New York, in 1851. The next year he moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he made his home until disease prevented him from further pursuing his labors. In April 1883, he ran for the remainder of Isaac Marston’s term as a candidate of the combined Democratic and Greenback Parties. His victory and that of John Champlin for the other seat at issue in that election...

    • John Wayne Champlin
      (pp. 61-61)

      John Wayne Champlin worked on the family farm in his youth and attended the village schools. He pursued courses in civil engineering for two years and worked in the field for two years in the state of New York. However, in 1854, he decided that he would be more successful in the law profession, moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and commenced his study under the direction of his brother, Stephen G. Champlin. By 1855, he was admitted to the bar and opened a law practice in Grand Rapids. His aptitude with the law was immediately apparent, and in 1856, he...

    • Allen Benton Morse
      (pp. 62-62)

      Allen Benton Morse has the distinction of being the first justice of the Michigan Supreme Court to have been born in Michigan. He studied for two years at Michigan Agricultural College prior to teaching school (he did not graduate, but in 1891 MAC awarded him an honorary LLB degree). In 1860, he began studying law in Ionia County but left to enlist in the Union Army. Morse served in a number of different capacities during the Civil War as a member of Michigan’s Sixteenth Infantry and as a first lieutenant, and later as an adjutant, with the Twenty-First Michigan Infanty....

    • Charles Dean Long
      (pp. 63-63)

      A native Michigander, Charles Dean Long was born in Grand Blanc and attended schools in Grand Blanc and Flint, Michigan. During this time, Long also taught school in order to help others, as well as further his preparation for college. When the Civil War began, however, his plans were drastically altered. Long enlisted in the Eighth Michigan Infantry and was severely wounded in April 1862 attacking a fort on Wilmington Island, Georgia. He lost his left arm, and a bullet was lodged in his inner thigh, where it remained for the rest of his life. Long did not allow these...

    • Edward Cahill
      (pp. 64-64)

      Edward Cahill was born on August 3, 1843, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His mother, Frances Marsh, was the niece of Epaphroditus Ransom, also a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. In his youth, Cahill moved all around the state until, following the death of his father, his family eventually settled down once again in Kalamazoo. In 1856, he entered the preparatory department at Kalamazoo College, then began working for theKalamazoo Gazetteas well as for the telegraph company. In 1862, he joined an Illinois regiment of the Union Army and fought in Kentucky until he was discharged later that year...

    • Claudius Buchanan Grant
      (pp. 65-65)

      Claudius Buchanan Grant was a colorful and outspoken member of the Michigan Supreme Court from 1890 to 1909. He was born in Lebanon, Maine, on October 25, 1835. At age twenty, he entered the University of Michigan; he graduated in 1859 and then taught school in Ann Arbor. He served as principal in his last few years with the school district but resigned in 1862 to help raise a company of the Twentieth Michigan Volunteer Infantry. He became colonel of the regiment in December 1864 and served until March 1865. Immediately after the war, Grant entered the University of Michigan’s...

    • John Wesley McGrath
      (pp. 66-66)

      John W. McGrath spent his youth engaged in three activities: attending school, working in the fields, and teaching school. In 1864, he began his law studies at the University of Michigan, but he returned to Pennsylvania in 1867 to pursue the commercial oil field business. Still undecided on a career, he returned to Ann Arbor, graduated from the Law Division in 1868, and began practicing law in Detroit. Although originally a Republican, McGrath was nominated by the Democratic Party to run in the November 1890 election against Edward Cahill for the remainder of Justice Campbell’s term. Cahill had been appointed...

    • George Harman Durand
      (pp. 67-67)

      George Harman Durand was born on a farm in Cobleskill, New York, on February 21, 1833. In 1852, he moved to Oxford, Michigan, taught school, and began the study of law. After admission to the bar in 1858, he moved to Flint, Michigan, where for nine years he served as director of public schools and later served as alderman. In 1873, he was elected mayor of Flint and was reelected the subsequent year. However, prior to the expiration of his term, he was elected as a representative to the U.S. House of Representatives where he was the chairman for the...

    • Robert Morris Montgomery
      (pp. 68-68)

      Born in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, in 1849, Robert M. Montgomery joined the Seventh Michigan Cavalry in 1864, at age fifteen, but did not see combat. Following the war, Montgomery studied law and moved to Pentwater, Oceana County, Michigan, where he began practicing law. In 1877, Montgomery relocated to Grand Rapids and continued his private practice and served as the U.S. district attorney. In 1881 he was elected judge of Michigan’s Seventeenth Circuit, but he resigned in 1888 for financial reasons. In 1891, Montgomery was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court and was reelected in 1901 to a term ending in...

    • Frank Arthur Hooker
      (pp. 69-69)

      Frank Hooker became a brick mason at a young age but continued to learn, including mathematics, history, and Latin at home, while he also taught in country schools. In 1863, he entered the Law Department at the University of Michigan, graduating in 1875. Hooker eventually settled in Charlotte, Michigan, practiced law, and served as the county’s school superintendent and prosecuting attorney. In 1878, Hooker was appointed judge of the Circuit Court for the Fifth Circuit by Governor Charles Croswell and continued on that bench until 1893. In November 1892, he won a vacancy election to complete the supreme court term...

    • Joseph B. Moore
      (pp. 70-70)

      Joseph B. Moore served thirty years on the Michigan Supreme Court, third in length of tenure only to Justices Campbell and Cavanagh. He was born on November 3, 1845, in Commerce, Michigan, one of eight children of a furniture maker and sawmill operator. In 1858 the family moved to Walled Lake where Joseph completed high school. He attempted to enlist in the Union Army in 1864 but was rejected for health reasons. In 1865, Moore entered Hillsdale College and alternately attended fall and spring terms while also teaching at local schools during the winter term and working at his father’s...

    • William Leland Carpenter
      (pp. 71-71)

      William Leland Carpenter was born in Orion Township, Michigan, on November 9, 1854. He remained on the family’s farm until 1872 when he entered Michigan Agricultural College. Shortly after his graduation from that institution, he entered the Law Department of the University of Michigan. He was admitted to the bar in 1878, and in 1879 he opened a law office in Detroit. In 1894, he became one of the judges of the Circuit Court for the Third Circuit. While serving in this capacity, Carpenter was involved in a rather high profile case dealing with a dispute over a will. “Several...

    • Charles Austin Blair
      (pp. 72-72)

      Charles Austin Blair was born on April 10, 1854, in Jackson, Michigan. His father was Austin Blair, Michigan’s “War Governor” during the Civil War. Charles Blair graduated from the University of Michigan in 1876, studied law in his father’s office, and was admitted to practice on September 5, 1878. He was prosecuting attorney of Jackson County, besides holding several minor offices. Blair was elected to the office of attorney general beginning in 1903 and was nominated for a second term but withdrew his name when he was nominated by the Republican Party to run in the November 1904 election for...

    • Aaron Vance McAlvay
      (pp. 73-73)

      Aaron Vance McAlvay was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on July 19, 1847. McAlvay’s father was a Michigan farmer, so he spent most of his early life, when not in school, on the farm. His colleague Flavius Brooke stated that, “Born without wealth, the early life of Justice McAlvay was characterized by that constant labor and indomitable perseverance which so strongly tends to the upbuilding of character.”¹⁷ Another colleague remembered that “His social qualities were of a high order, based upon an open and frank friendliness that is certain to win response.”18 He worked his way to the University of...

    • Russell Cowles Ostrander
      (pp. 74-74)

      Russell Cowles Ostrander was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on September 1, 1851, but moved with his family to Lansing where he lived most of his life. After he graduated from high school, he began reading law while working for several years in a general store. He then attended and graduated in 1876 from the Law Department of the University of Michigan. He returned to Lansing where he practiced law and held many local and state offices, elected and appointed. He also wrote a popular civics textbook for high schools,Civil Government of the United States, and of the State of...

    • Flavius Lionel Brooke
      (pp. 75-75)

      Flavius Lionel Brooke was born in Ontario, Canada, where he received his education and began his legal career. He brought his family to Michigan in 1885 and began a law practice in Detroit. He was elected judge of the Wayne County (Third) Circuit Court in 1901. In September 1908, Justice William L. Carpenter, Brooke’s former law partner, resigned from the Michigan Supreme Court, and Brooke won the election held on November 3 of that year to replace Carpenter. However, the election was only effective as of January 1, 1909, so, to avoid any further vacancy, on November 9 Governor Fred...

    • John Wesley Stone
      (pp. 76-76)

      John Wesley Stone was born in Wadsworth, Ohio, on July 18, 1838. In 1856, his family moved from Ohio to Michigan and settled on a farm in Allegan County. At twenty-two, while he was still laboring on his father’s farm, he was elected county clerk. While serving in that office, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1862. At the expiration of his term as county clerk, he was elected prosecuting attorney and was twice reelected to that office. In 1873, he was elected judge of the Circuit Court for the Twentieth Circuit. He resigned from this...

    • John E. Bird
      (pp. 77-77)

      John E. Bird was born on December 19, 1862, in Clayton, Michigan. He was educated in the public schools and attended nearby Adrian College. After a two-year study of law, he was admitted to the bar in November 1888 and opened a private practice in Adrian, Michigan. In 1894, he was elected prosecuting attorney of Lenawee County and served until 1899. In 1905, Bird was elected to the first of three two-year terms as attorney general for the state of Michigan. During this time “the State of Michigan undertook to deal with the railroad corporations. The Legislature repealed the charter...

    • Joseph Hall Steere
      (pp. 78-78)

      Joseph Hall Steere was born in Addison, Michigan, on May 19, 1852, educated in the public schools of Addison, and continued his studies in the Raisin Valley Seminary, where he was graduated in 1871. In 1876, he graduated from the Literary Department of the University of Michigan, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1878. At the insistence of industrialist William Chandler, Steere moved to Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where he was domiciled for the rest of his life. During his first year at the Soo he was appointed prosecuting attorney and served in that...

    • Franz Christian Kuhn
      (pp. 79-79)

      Franz C. Kuhn was born in Detroit on February 8, 1872, the son of parents who had emigrated from Germany, and raised in Mount Clemens, Michigan. He graduated from the Literary Department of the University of Michigan in 1893 and from the university’s Law Department in 1894. He began the practice of law in Mount Clemens immediately after his graduation and served his county as circuit court commissioner until 1896. He then served as prosecuting attorney of Macomb County for six years and as probate judge for another six years. He resigned from the Probate Court and moved to Lansing...

    • Rollin Harlow Person
      (pp. 80-80)

      Rollin H. Person was born on October 15, 1850, on a farm in Iosco Township, Livingston County, Michigan. He attended the country school of his neighborhood and the high school at Howell. He studied for six months in the Law Department of the University of Michigan and in 1873 was admitted to the bar. Soon after his marriage the couple moved to Nebraska, but they returned to Livingston County in 1875 where Person built a law practice in Howell. When the Thirtieth Judicial Circuit was created in 1891, Person was appointed by Governor Edwin Winans to the vacant judgeship and...

    • Grant Fellows
      (pp. 81-81)

      Grant Fellows was born and educated in Hudson Township, Lenawee County, including Hudson High School. He practiced law in Hudson in 1886, and also became active in Republican politics. He quickly became known as one of the premier lawyers in Michigan and as one of the most eloquent public speakers in the state. From 1901 until 1912, he was a member of the board of law examiners, and he was elected Michigan attorney general in 1912. The Republican Party nominated him to run in the vacancy election in November 1916 for the remainder of the term of Justice McAlvay. He...

    • Nelson Sharpe
      (pp. 82-82)

      Nelson Sharpe was born in Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada, on August 25, 1858, and received his elementary education in the public schools of that province. His formal education continued when he entered Albert College, Belleville, Ontario. His real education, however, commenced when, at the age of twenty-four, he moved to the little town of West Branch, Michigan, among the pine forests of Ogemaw County. There, in partnership with his brother Albert, he published a newspaper and practiced law. He became an American citizen in 1888.

      In 1893, the Thirty-Fourth Judicial Circuit, consisting of six counties, was created by an act...

    • George M. Clark
      (pp. 83-83)

      George M. Clark was born in Canada, but his family moved to Bad Axe, Michigan, in 1881. Following graduation from high school, he worked in Huron County as a rural schoolteacher. In 1898 he commenced his first term as county clerk of Huron County and served until December 31, 1903. During this period he pursued a course of study in law and commenced the practice of law in Bad Axe on January 1, 1905. He enjoyed a very successful practice in his community, which continued until his appointment by Governor Albert E. Sleeper to the Michigan Supreme Court on December...

    • Howard Wiest
      (pp. 84-84)

      Howard Wiest was born at the height of the Civil War and died shortly after World War II. Wiest was born in Macomb County, Michigan, on February 24, 1864; his family soon moved to Pontiac, Michigan. He left school before completing high school to become an apprentice in the machinist trade. He then made a change of direction and ventured to Detroit to work as an office boy in a law firm and to read law. Upon admission to the bar, he began his professional career with an appointment from Governor Cyrus Luce as circuit court commissioner (1887–1888). In...

    • John Samuel McDonald
      (pp. 85-85)

      John Samuel McDonald was born in Dundas County, Ontario, on February 8, 1865. He attended school at Ridgetown, Ontario, and in 1887 attended Victoria University in Coburg, Ontario. After teaching school for a short time in Ontario, he came to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he continued teaching for two years. His earnings enabled him to enter the University of Michigan Law School, but at the end of one year he returned to Grand Rapids where he completed his law studies and was admitted to the bar. In June of 1924, the board of regents of the University of Michigan conferred...

    • Ernest Albert Snow
      (pp. 86-86)

      Ernest Albert Snow was born on April 17, 1876, in Hanover, Michigan, but the family moved to Saginaw, Michigan, while Ernest was still young, and there he was educated and lived for most of his life. He attended the University of Michigan for three years, graduated with the law class of 1896, was admitted to the Michigan Bar, and began the practice of law with his father. In 1902 Snow was elected judge of the Saginaw Recorder’s Court, and from 1907 to 1908 he served as a member of the Michigan Constitutional Convention. In 1917, he became a member of...

    • Richard Charles Flannigan
      (pp. 87-87)

      Richard Charles Flannigan was born in December 1857 in Ontonagon, on Lake Superior. Upon his appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1927, he became the court’s first justice to have been born in the Upper Peninsula. His family moved to Marquette, Michigan, in 1868 where he grew up and went to school intermittently. At age fifteen, after three or four years as a checking clerk and bellboy at the weigh scales and then at the ore docks of the railroad, Flannigan took a position with a local attorney’s office where he began reading law to prepare for a career....

    • Louis Henry Fead
      (pp. 88-88)

      Louis Henry Fead was born on May 2, 1877, in Lexington, Sanilac County, Michigan, where his family operated a small wool mill. Louis was educated in the local public schools, was graduated as valedictorian at age sixteen, and attended Olivet College. Fead did not graduate, but the college later awarded him an honorary degree. In 1897 he moved to Detroit and worked in a law office while attending the Detroit College of Law. In 1898, he enrolled in the University of Michigan Law School, graduating in 1900. Soon after, he moved to Newberry in the Upper Peninsula to enjoy outdoor...

    • William W. Potter
      (pp. 89-89)

      William W. Potter was born on August 1, 1869, in Maple Grove, Michigan. Potter attended Ypsilanti State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University) and later graduated from the Law Department of the University of Michigan. He taught school and served as superintendent of schools in Harrison, Michigan, for three years. He was the author of a history of Barry County published in 1912. His career in public service began when he was the city attorney in Hastings. Later, he was prosecuting attorney of Barry County, a Michigan state senator, and a member of the draft board during World War I....

    • Walter Harper North
      (pp. 90-90)

      Walter H. North spent forty-seven of his fifty-three years as an attorney as a judge. He was born on his family’s farm in Hillsdale County on November 1, 1871. By hard work he managed to save enough money to pay his way through Hillsdale College, where he received an academic degree, and the University of Michigan where he graduated with a law degree in 1899. After his graduation, he opened a law office in Battle Creek where he remained in private practice only a short time before he became a judge of the Circuit Court for the Thirty-Seventh Circuit on...

    • Henry Magnus Butzel
      (pp. 91-91)

      Henry Magnus Butzel was born on May 24, 1871, in Detroit, Michigan, and attended public schools there. Butzel then attended the University of Michigan and received a Bachelor of Philosophy and, later, a law degree. While in Ann Arbor, he was one of the founders of theUniversity of Michigan Daily. Upon the completion of his law studies and admittance to the bar in 1892, Butzel immediately began practicing law in Detroit and did so until July 1929 when Governor Fred Green appointed him to the Michigan Supreme Court to replace Justice Fellows who had recently died in office. Butzel...

    • Thomas Addis Emmett Weadock
      (pp. 92-92)

      After Edward M. Sharpe defeated incumbent Justice George M. Clark for reelection in April 1933, Clark resigned his seat the following August although his term did not end until December 31. Instead of appointing Sharpe to complete the term, Governor William A. Comstock appointed eighty-three-year-old Detroit attorney Thomas Addis Emmet Weadock to serve the remaining four months. Presumably Comstock (who, like both Sharpe and Weadock, was a Democrat) intended to reward Weadock for his long service to the Democratic Party including losing campaigns for seats on the supreme court in 1904, 1928, and 1929. Born in Ballygarrett, Ireland, he arrived...

    • George Edward Bushnell
      (pp. 93-93)

      George Edward Bushnell was born on November 4, 1887, in Roanoke, Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1907 with a degree in engineering and then worked at an advertising firm in New York. Eventually he turned to the law, graduating from the Detroit College of Law in 1915 before he served the U.S. Army as a trial judge advocate during World War I. At the war’s conclusion, he returned to Michigan where he became a partner in a Detroit law firm and practiced law there for many years. In 1928, he was nominated by the Democratic Party to...

    • Edward MacGlen Sharpe
      (pp. 94-94)

      Edward MacGlen Sharpe was born on a farm in Bay County, Michigan, on December 18, 1887, and attended rural public schools in his youth. Sharpe graduated from Ferris Institute and then from the University of Michigan Law School in 1914. He was admitted to the bar that same year. For five years, Sharpe was a teacher in public schools before he began practicing law in Bay City. Sharpe served as assistant prosecuting attorney for Bay County from 1915 until 1918. Sharpe was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1933 and began his service in 1934. He was reelected in...

    • Harry S. Toy
      (pp. 95-95)

      Harry S. Toy was born in Elkhorn, West Virginia, in 1892, and spent his youth in Pennsylvania. He came to Detroit in 1910 and entered the Detroit College of Law the same year. Working his way through law school, he was graduated in 1913 and was admitted to the practice of law. Shortly after the United States entered World War I in 1916, Toy entered the army, became an officer, and was ordered overseas in December of 1917. He became a captain in the 144th Machine Gun Company and was wounded in action three times and gassed once. He was...

    • Bert D. Chandler
      (pp. 96-96)

      Bert D. Chandler was born in Rollin Township, Lenawee County, Michigan, on March 19, 1869. He attended the public schools in Addison and Hudson, and later studied law with former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Grant Fellows. Once admitted to the bar, he practiced law in Hudson, Michigan, from 1890 until 1936, except for two years in which he served on the Circuit Court for the Thirty-Ninth Circuit. In November 1936, he won the vacancy election to the supreme court seat of former justice Nelson Sharpe, but he lost his bid for reelection in 1943. When he was elected to the...

    • Thomas Francis McAllister
      (pp. 97-97)

      Thomas Francis McAllister was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He earned two degrees from the University of Michigan, a BA in 1918 and an LLB listed as given in 1921 although it may have been granted retroactively. McAllister volunteered for the French Foreign Legion in 1917, organized a volunteer ambulance unit, and flew combat missions for the French Air Force. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest award that could be given to an airman in the French military forces. The question of when he received his law degree arises from a prank he pulled in...

    • Emerson Richard Boyles
      (pp. 98-98)

      Emerson Richard Boyles was born in Chester Township, Eaton County, Michigan, on June 29, 1881. He attended rural district schools and was graduated from Charlotte High School where he was valedictorian of his class. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1903 and was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty-one. He practiced law in Charlotte and was elected prosecuting attorney to serve from 1912 until 1916. From 1921 until 1927, he was a probate judge for Eaton County. Boyles authored the Michigan Criminal Index, Probate Blanks, and Probate Manual. He was also a supervisor...

    • Raymond Wesley Starr
      (pp. 99-100)

      Raymond W. Starr was born on August 24, 1888, in Emmet County, Michigan, near the Straits of Mackinac. After graduation from Harbor Springs High School, he attended Ferris Institute in Big Rapids, Michigan, for one year, and he then attended the University of Michigan Law School, where he graduated in 1910. He moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to practice law, and although he was successful with his private clients, he saw a gap in the legal services available. He founded the Legal Aid Bureau where he would go at night to offer help to the poor of Grand Rapids. In...

    • Neil Edwin Reid
      (pp. 101-101)

      Neil E. Reid was born in Bruce Township, Macomb County, Michigan, on April 24, 1871. As an adult, he was described as a six-foot-four, gaunt, yet colorful man. After graduation from high school and a year at Harvard College on scholarship (1889–90), he became a court stenographer in Mount Clemens in 1894. While working as a clerk in a law firm, he attended the Detroit College of Law, graduating in 1896. In 1910, Governor Fred W. Warner appointed Reid judge of the Macomb County Probate Court, over which he presided for thirteen years. He then served for twenty years...

    • Leland Walker Carr
      (pp. 102-102)

      Leland Walker Carr was born on September 29, 1883, on a farm in Livingston County, Michigan. He attended Michigan State Normal College (Eastern Michigan University) at Ypsilanti and then enrolled at the University of Michigan Law School from which he graduated in 1906. His first employment was as a teacher and superintendent of schools in Marine City, Michigan (1906–8) and as superintendent of schools in Ely, Nevada (1908–10). He then returned to Michigan and began a private practice in Ionia where he also served for a term as assistant prosecuting attorney. In 1913, Carr was appointed assistant attorney...

    • John Robert Dethmers
      (pp. 103-103)

      John R. Dethmers was born in Plessis, Iowa, on October 15, 1903, and grew up in Orange City. He graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, went on to the University of Michigan Law School, and began to practice law in 1927 in Holland, Michigan. He was elected prosecuting attorney for Ottawa County in 1931, serving until 1938, served as chief assistant attorney general of Michigan in 1943 to 1944, and was elected attorney general of Michigan in 1945. In August 1946, Governor Harry Kelly appointed Dethmers to the Michigan Supreme Court to replace Justice Raymond Starr who had moved...

    • Clark Jayno Adams
      (pp. 104-104)

      Clark J. Adams was born on June 24, 1904, in the town of Silver Lake, Waterford Township, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with two degrees (BA 1925, JD 1927) and went into private practice in Pontiac, Michigan. He served as G. Mennen Williams’s legal advisor from 1949 to 1952, and in August 1952 Governor Williams appointed Adams to the Michigan Supreme Court to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Justice Walter H. North. Adams won the vacancy election for the remainder of Justice North’s term in November 1952, but five months later he lost his...

    • Harry Francis Kelly
      (pp. 105-105)

      Harry Francis Kelly was born on April 19, 1895, in Ottawa, Illinois, the oldest son in a family of nine. After his graduation from high school, Kelly spent a year in his father’s law office assisting him, prior to entering the University of Notre Dame Law School and graduating in 1917. Kelly then enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to France. In the Battle of Chateau-Thierry, Kelly led an assault on an entrenched German machine-gun position and lost his right leg, for which action France awarded him the Croix de Guerre with palm leaves. In 1920, he was...

    • Talbot Smith
      (pp. 106-106)

      Talbot Smith was born on October 11, 1899, in Fayette, Missouri. In 1917, Smith entered the United States Naval Academy and following his graduation began his fourteen-year naval career. Smith left the navy in 1931 and entered the University of Michigan Law School, graduating in 1934. He practiced in Detroit for a few years but then began teaching law, first at the University of Missouri and, after World War II, at the University of California at Berkeley. During the war, Smith served with the Office of Price Administration. He was in charge of civil litigation, as well as serving as...

    • Eugene Francis Black
      (pp. 107-107)

      Eugene F. Black was born in Marine City, Michigan, on January 27, 1903. He was graduated from Port Huron High School in 1921 and then studied law for a year at the Detroit College of Law. Black then became a statutory law student in the office of former circuit judge Shirley Stewart. Following one special term of study at the University of Michigan Law Department in 1925, he was admitted to practice law and set up his practice in Port Huron, Michigan, until 1942, when Black enlisted in the United States Naval Reserves as a lieutenant. An old knee injury...

    • John Donaldson Voelker
      (pp. 108-108)

      John Donaldson Voelker was born on June 19, 1903, in Ishpeming, Michigan. Voelker’s father owned and operated a prominent saloon in Ishpeming until Prohibition put an end to his business. Voelker attended Northern Michigan Normal College in Marquette, Michigan (1922–24), and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1928. He moved to Chicago, where he practiced law with a prestigious firm and met his wife, but he tired of city life and in 1933 they returned to Ishpeming where Voelker established his own practice. In 1934, Voelker ran for and became the Marquette County prosecutor, the first...

    • George Clifton Edwards Jr.
      (pp. 109-109)

      George Clifton Edwards Jr. was born in Dallas, Texas. He graduated from Southern Methodist University at the age of eighteen (BA 1933) and from Harvard University at nineteen (MA 1934). He then moved to Detroit as a union organizer. From 1940 through 1941, he served as director-secretary for the Detroit Housing Commission. From 1943 until 1946, he was stationed with the United States Infantry in the Philippines. From 1941 until 1949, he served two terms as president of the Detroit Common Council. In 1951, he became a judge in the Wayne County Probate Court, Juvenile Division, and he served as...

    • Thomas Matthew Kavanagh
      (pp. 110-110)

      Thomas Matthew Kavanagh was born on August 4, 1909, near Carson City, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Detroit with a law degree and then practiced in Detroit for three years before returning to Carson City. There he served as both city attorney and city clerk, as well as engaging in private practice. Kavanagh was twice elected attorney general, in 1954 and 1956. While serving in that position he established a modern, hard-hitting office and insisted on excellence in the opinions of the attorney general. As a member of the State Administrative Board, as well as attorney general, he...

    • Theodore Souris
      (pp. 111-111)

      Theodore Souris was born on August 5, 1925, in Detroit, Michigan. He attended the elementary and secondary schools in Detroit and Grosse Pointe. Souris enrolled in the University of Michigan at the age of sixteen. However, in 1943, at the age of seventeen, he enlisted in the air force and participated in the cadet training program until he was discharged in 1945. He returned to Michigan, completed his undergraduate degree, and earned a law degree as well. Souris practiced law in Detroit from 1949 to 1959, when he was appointed by Governor G. Mennen Williams to the Wayne Circuit Court....

    • Otis Milton Smith
      (pp. 112-113)

      Otis M. Smith, the first African American justice on the Michigan Supreme Court, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on February 20, 1922. He attended Fisk University and Syracuse University. In 1950, Smith graduated from Catholic University Law School in Washington, D.C. In January of 1951 he was admitted to the bar and immediately began to practice law in Flint, Michigan. In addition to his practice of law, Smith took part in many civic organizations and functions. His community service brought him recognition from the Junior Chamber of Commerce in the city of Flint as the Outstanding Young Man in Flint...

    • Paul Lincoln Adams
      (pp. 114-115)

      Paul Lincoln Adams served twice on the Michigan Supreme Court, first from January 2, 1962, to December 31, 1962, and then from January 1, 1964, to January 1, 1973. The third native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to serve on the supreme court, Adams received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1930 and his master’s the next year. After three years at home in the family insurance business, he enrolled in the University of Michigan Law School, receiving his degree and passing the bar in 1936. While in law school he formed what turned out to be an...

    • Michael Doyle O’Hara
      (pp. 116-117)

      Michael D. O’Hara was born on September 19, 1910, in Menominee, Michigan, thus becoming the fourth native of the Upper Peninsula to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court. He was also one of the last justices not to have attended a law school. After receiving degrees from the University of Notre Dame and St. Norbert College, O’Hara studied law under the supervision of Leland Carr, who later became a chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. In 1935, O’Hara was admitted to the bar and returned to Menominee where he went into private practice. In 1943, he enlisted in the...

    • Thomas E. Brennan
      (pp. 118-118)

      Thomas E. Brennan was born in Detroit, Michigan, on May 27, 1929. After high school at Catholic Central High School in Detroit, he entered the law program at the University of Detroit, earning an LLB in 1952. Brennan carried on a law practice in Detroit from 1953 until 1961 when he was elected to a seat on Detroit’s Court of Common Pleas. In 1963, he was appointed by Governor George Romney to Wayne County’s Circuit Court for the Third Circuit and was elected to that court a year later. In 1966, Governor Romney again called upon Brennan, this time to...

    • Thomas Giles Kavanagh
      (pp. 119-119)

      Thomas Giles Kavanagh attended the University of Detroit High School and received his AB degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1938. Kavanagh then attended the Detroit College of Law and received his LLB in 1943. Kavanagh’s career as a judge began in 1964, when he was elected to the Michigan Court of Appeals. His career advanced in 1968, when he was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court. In 1969, the court had two Thomas Kavanaghs: Thomas Matthew Kavanagh of Carson City, and Thomas Giles Kavanagh of Troy, no relation. Nicknames were given to distinguish the two justices. Thomas...

    • John Burley Swainson
      (pp. 120-121)

      John Burley Swainson was born on July 31, 1925, in Windsor, Ontario. When he was an infant, his family relocated to Port Huron, Michigan, where he grew up and attended school. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen at the age of eighteen. Following high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II. In November 1944, assigned to the Ninety-Fifth Infantry Division, he lost both legs by amputation following a land mine explosion near Metz, Alsace-Lorraine, France. He was awarded France’s Croix de Guerre, the Presidential Unit Citation with two battle stars, and the Purple Heart, all before...

    • Gerhard Mennen Williams
      (pp. 122-122)

      G. Mennen Williams was born to a wealthy Detroit family in 1911. His maternal grandfather was the founder of the Mennen line of shaving lotions, and as a result, Williams was forever known as “Soapy.” He graduated from Princeton University in 1933 and received his law degree from the University of Michigan three years later. At Michigan he also broke the faith with his family and declared himself a Democrat. Williams worked for the U.S. Social Security Board from 1936 to 1938 when Governor Frank Murphy appointed him assistant Michigan attorney general. When Murphy became U.S. attorney general, Williams served...

    • Mary Stallings Coleman
      (pp. 123-123)

      Mary Coleman was born Mary Stallings on June 24, 1914, in Forney, Texas. Both of Coleman’s parents were attorneys. The family moved to Washington, D.C., when she was still young. Upon the early death of Justice Coleman’s father, her mother took the position as chief of the section in the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for enforcement of the beer and wine provisions of the Volstead Act. Following her graduation from the University of Maryland, Mary Stallings attended law school at George Washington University during the evening, in addition to working a full-time job. She met her husband, Creighton Coleman,...

    • Charles Leonard Levin
      (pp. 124-124)

      Charles Leonard Levin was born on April 28, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan, to an extended family devoted to public service. Levin’s father, Theodore Levin, was a highly respected chief judge of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan while his cousins, Sander Levin and Carl Levin, both represented Michigan in the U.S. Congress. Charles Levin received both of his degrees from the University of Michigan, a BA in 1946 and an LLB degree in 1947, and was admitted to the Michigan Bar in November 1947. Levin joined the New York Bar in June 1949, the District of...

    • John Warner Fitzgerald
      (pp. 125-125)

      John Warner Fitzgerald’s family was steeped in Michigan politics: his father, Frank D. Fitzgerald, was governor of Michigan and his grandfather, John W. Fitzgerald, was a state representative. Fitzgerald was graduated from Grand Ledge High School in 1942, spent two semesters at Michigan State University, then joined the U.S. Army, serving in several posts around the United States. After the war he graduated from Michigan State University and obtained his law degree from the University of Michigan. He was appointed legal counsel for the state senate from 1955 until 1958, and he served in the state senate from 1958 until...

    • Lawrence Boyd Lindemer
      (pp. 126-126)

      Lawrence Boyd Lindemer was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1921. He first attended Hamilton College in New York but then transferred to the University of Michigan. He graduated with a BA degree in 1943. During World War II, Lindemer served as a second lieutenant with the army and the air force. Following the war, he returned to the University of Michigan Law School where he received an LLB degree. He entered practice in Ingham County in 1948 but very soon became interested in politics. He served as assistant prosecuting attorney for Ingham County in 1949 and 1950. From 1951...

    • James Leo Ryan
      (pp. 127-127)

      James L. Ryan was born in Detroit, Michigan, on November 19, 1932, the only son of Leo and Irene Ryan. He attended Detroit Catholic Central High School, and from 1950 to 1953 he attended what was then the University of Detroit. Before receiving an undergraduate degree, he transferred to the university’s School of Law and was awarded his LLB in 1957. Ryan next served as an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the U.S. Navy on active duty until 1960, and continued his military service as a certified military judge in the Naval Reserve until his retirement with...

    • Blair Moody Jr.
      (pp. 128-128)

      Blair Moody Jr. was born on February 27, 1928, in Detroit, Michigan. He attended public schools in the Washington, D.C., area where his father served for many years as a writer and as Washington bureau chief for theDetroit News, and later as U.S. Senator from Michigan. Moody attended the University of Michigan, working during the summers as a reporter for both theDetroit Newsand theWashington Post. He received his AB degree in 1949 and his LLB degree in 1952. Upon graduation from law school, he served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean...

    • Dorothy Comstock Riley
      (pp. 129-130)

      Dorothy Comstock Riley served two nonconsecutive tours of duty on the Michigan Supreme Court. Her first experience resulted in one of the most public internal disputes in the court’s history. She was born Dorothy Ruth Comstock on December 6, 1924, in Detroit, Michigan, She attended Detroit public schools as a child and graduated from Northwestern High School. She received her BA from what was then Wayne University in 1946 and her LLB in 1949. In 1967 she married Wallace D. Riley who later became president of the State Bar of Michigan and of the American Bar Association, and they had...

    • James Henry Brickley
      (pp. 131-131)

      Born in Flint, Michigan, James H. Brickley lived for a time in Canada and received his PhB and LLB degrees from what was then the University of Detroit, as well an LLM degree in public and administrative law from New York University. Brickley’s career in public service extended through all levels of government, from Special Agent with the FBI to chief assistant prosecutor for Wayne County, and from U.S. attorney for Eastern Michigan to lieutenant governor of Michigan. Brickley also served the academic community with his knowledge of the law. From 1975 until 1978, he was the president of Eastern...

    • Michael Francis Cavanagh
      (pp. 132-132)

      Michael F. Cavanagh was born on October 21, 1940, in Detroit, Michigan. He was graduated from the University of Detroit High School in 1958, and he received his BA from the University of Detroit in 1962. Cavanagh earned his JD from the University of Detroit School of Law in 1966. Cavanagh’s career began when he was a research attorney for the Michigan Court of Appeals from 1966 until 1967. He was the city attorney for Lansing from 1967 until 1969, and he was a partner in the law firm of Farhat, Burns, and Story, P.C., from 1969 until 1973. Cavanagh...

    • Patricia Jean Ehrhardt Pernick Boyle
      (pp. 133-133)

      Patricia Jean Ehrhardt was born on March 31, 1937, in Detroit, Michigan. She received her BA from Wayne State University and her JD from that same institution. She was the widow of Recorder’s Court Judge Terrance K. Boyle and had four sons. After graduating from law school, Boyle served as assistant U.S. attorney, director of research training and appeals of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, and judge of the Detroit Recorder’s Court. In 1978 President Jimmy Carter appointed her to become a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, where she served from 1978 until...

    • Dennis Wayne Archer
      (pp. 134-134)

      Dennis Wayne Archer was born on January 1, 1942, in Detroit, Michigan. In his formal education, Archer did not originally steer his career toward law. He attended Wayne State University with the intention of studying pharmacology. He then transferred to the Detroit Institute of Technology and transferred once again to Western Michigan University. At this point, Archer wanted to pursue a career as a history teacher, yet ended up becoming a special education teacher. He received a BS degree from Western Michigan University in 1965. Archer’s wife, Trudy DunCombe Archer, herself a future judge, encouraged him to pursue a law...

    • Robert Paul Griffin
      (pp. 135-135)

      Robert Paul Griffin was born on November 6, 1923, in Detroit, Michigan. He attended public schools in Garden City and Dearborn. Griffin served in the U.S. Army from 1943 until 1946. He received his AB and BS from Central Michigan College in 1947, and in 1950 he received his JD from the University of Michigan Law School. He began his professional career working as a law clerk for Michigan Supreme Court Justice John Dethmers. With Dethmers’s assistance, Griffin found a place in a Traverse City law firm and began practicing law. He practiced from 1950 until 1956 when he was...

    • Conrad L. Mallett Jr.
      (pp. 136-136)

      Conrad L. Mallett Jr. was born on October 12, 1953, in Detroit, Michigan. He received his BA from the University of California–Los Angeles in 1975. He also received his MPA and JD from the University of Southern California in 1979. Mallett was admitted to the Michigan Bar in 1979 and immediately began his involvement in many legal organizations. His career in public service began when he served from 1983 until 1984 as the director of legislative affairs for Governor James J. Blanchard. From 1985 until 1986, Mallett was the political director and executive assistant to Detroit Mayor Coleman Young....

    • Elizabeth A. Weaver
      (pp. 137-137)

      Elizabeth A. Weaver was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her BA in 1962 from H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, the women’s branch of Tulane University, and her JD in 1965 from Tulane Law School. While pursuing her law degree, she was an editor of theTulane Law Review. Weaver’s legal career began when she worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Oliver P. Carriere of the Louisiana Civil District Court. She was admitted to practice in Louisiana in 1965 and in Michigan in 1973. She was also an attorney/title specialist for the Chevron Oil Company. In 1973,...

    • Marilyn Jean Kelly
      (pp. 138-138)

      Marilyn Jean Kelly was raised in Detroit and graduated from Mackenzie High School. She earned a BA degree from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. After a year’s graduate study at La Sorbonne, University of Paris, France, she received her master’s degree from Middlebury College in Vermont. She taught French language and literature in the Grosse Pointe Public Schools, at Albion College, and at Eastern Michigan University before attending law school at Wayne State University. She was awarded a law degree with honors and serves the law school currently as a member of its board of visitors. In 1988, after seventeen...

    • Clifford W. Taylor
      (pp. 139-139)

      Clifford W. Taylor was born on November 9, 1942, in Flint, Michigan. He received his BA from the University of Michigan in 1964 and his JD from George Washington University in 1967. Taylor served in the U.S. Navy as a line officer from 1967 until 1971. He was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1968, and when he left the navy, he began practicing law in Lansing as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ingham County and then, in 1972, with a Lansing firm where he practiced until 1992 when Governor John Engler appointed him to the court of...

    • Maura Denise Corrigan
      (pp. 140-140)

      Maura Denise Corrigan was born in 1948 in Cleveland, Ohio. She received her BA from Marygrove College in 1969, graduating magna cum laude, and her JD from the University of Detroit in 1973, graduating cum laude. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable John Gillis of the Michigan Court of Appeals for two years and then as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Wayne County. In 1979 she joined the staff of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan where she held the positions of chief of appeals (1979–1986) and chief assistant U.S. attorney (1986–1989)....

    • Robert Preston Young Jr.
      (pp. 141-141)

      Robert Preston Young Jr. was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. He earned two degrees from Harvard University, a BA cum laude from Harvard College in 1974 and a JD from Harvard Law School in 1977. Young practiced law for fifteen years with the law firm of Dickinson, Wright, Moon, Van Dusen & Freeman. In 1992, he was named vice president, corporate secretary, and general counsel of AAA Michigan. He served as a member of the Michigan Civil Service Commission from 1992 until 1995 and of the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees from 1988 until 1995. In 1995, Governer...

    • Stephen J. Markman
      (pp. 142-142)

      Stephen J. Markman was born on June 4, 1949, in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Duke University with his Bachelor of Arts degree and earned his JD from the University of Cincinnati. After having served for three years as a legislative assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives, Markman was appointed chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution in 1978 and served in that position for seven years. During this period, he also served as deputy chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. After being appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, Markman served for four...

    • Diane Marie Hathaway
      (pp. 143-143)

      The daughter of a Detroit police officer, Justice Hathaway was born, raised, and educated in the city of Detroit. Upon graduating from high school, she earned a degree in Radiological Technology from Henry Ford Hospital; she also attained a real estate broker’s license. She worked both in real estate and x-ray technology while her husband attended and completed law school. While continuing to work and raise her family, Justice Hathaway then continued her education at Wayne State University and at Madonna College, where she graduated with honors with a BS in Allied Health. She earned her law degree from the...

    • Alton Thomas Davis
      (pp. 144-144)

      Alton Thomas Davis is a graduate of the Detroit College of Law, Western Michigan University, North Central Michigan College, and Inland Lakes High School. He began his law career in private practice in Grayling, Michigan, during which time he also served for four years as chief assistant prosecuting attorney and then as prosecuting attorney in Crawford County. Justice Davis served as chief judge of the Forty-Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan, which encompasses Otsego, Crawford, and Kalkaska Counties. He served as chief judge for seventeen of his twenty-one years on the Forty-Sixth Judicial Circuit Court; he oversaw the Forty-Sixth Circuit’s...

    • Mary Beth Kelly
      (pp. 145-145)

      Before Justice Mary Beth Kelly was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court in November 2010, she served on the Circuit Court for the Third Circuit (Wayne County) for eleven years, having been appointed by Governor John Engler in 1999; she was elected to the court in 2000 and reelected in 2002 and 2008. In 2002, the Michigan Supreme Court appointed her the chief judge of the Wayne Circuit Court, making her the first woman to lead that bench. She served as chief judge through 2007, focusing on budget deficit reduction, timely dockets, jail overcrowding, and the court’s Family Division. She...

    • Brian K. Zahra
      (pp. 146-146)

      Justice Zahra received his undergraduate degree in 1984 from Wayne State University; to finance his education, he opened and operated a small health and personal care retail store in downtown Detroit, later opening a grocery outlet, also in Detroit, with two partners. In 1987, he graduated with honors from the University of Detroit Law School. He then served as law clerk to Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, before joining the Detroit law firm of Dickinson, Wright in 1989. In 1994, Governor John Engler appointed him to the Circuit Court for...

    • Bridget Mary McCormack
      (pp. 147-147)

      Justice Bridget Mary McCormack joined the Michigan Supreme Court in January 2013. Before her election to the court in November 2012, she was a law professor and dean at the University of Michigan Law School. Born in Washington, D.C., Justice McCormack graduated from New York University Law School in 1991 and then spent the first five years of her legal career in New York City, first with the Legal Aid Society and then at the Office of the Appellate Defender. In 1996, she became a faculty fellow at the Yale Law School, and in 1998, she joined the faculty of...

    • David Francis Viviano
      (pp. 148-148)

      David F. Viviano was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court on February 27, 2013, by Governor Rick Snyder to replace Justice Diane Hathaway who resigned. Justice Viviano previously served on the Macomb County Circuit Court, to which he was elected in 2006. In 2011, the supreme court appointed him to serve as chief judge of both the circuit court and the Macomb County Probate Court. As chief judge, he oversaw the operations of both courts, including spearheading the circuit court’s e-filing pilot project and other technological innovations. Before becoming a judge, Justice Viviano worked at two nationally recognized law firms,...

    • Richard Howard Bernstein
      (pp. 149-150)

      Richard H. Bernstein was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1974. After graduating from Andover High School in Bloomfield Hills, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern University School of Law. He then began the practice of law in Farmington Hills, Michigan, with his father and his siblings. Blind at birth, Bernstein focused much of his legal work on protecting the rights of people with disabilities, including several prominent cases involving access to transportation, public facilities, and education. He also is an adjunct professor at the University...

  9. VERDICT OF HISTORY
    • The Pond and Maher Cases: Crime and Democracy on the Frontier
      (pp. 153-157)

      The earliest significant cases in Michigan Supreme Court history involved frontier justice. The court made it easier for citizens to defend themselves and mitigated the criminal law of murder. These decisions reflected the conditions of life and politics in the Michigan of the 1860s.¹ People were close to the state of nature and believed fiercely in the right of popular self-government. InPond v. People(1860), the court held that a man whose life and property were being attacked could use deadly force to defend them. It recognized the principle that a man’s home is his castle and affirmed that...

    • The Workman Case: Racial Equality in Nineteenth-Century Michigan
      (pp. 158-163)

      The second significant Michigan Supreme Court decision confirmed that the state prohibited racial segregation in Detroit public schools. The court decidedPeople ex rel. Joseph Workman v. The Board of Education of Detroitin the same year (1869) that Michigan ratified the Fifteenth Amendment, which prohibited states from depriving citizens of the right to vote on the basis of race. Michigan simultaneously amended its own laws to enfranchise blacks; it did this at the high point of the post–Civil War effort to reconstruct the former Confederate states and guarantee equal rights to blacks throughout the nation.

      Michigan had been...

    • People v. Salem: Taxation and Class Legislation
      (pp. 164-168)

      In 1870, the Michigan Supreme Court handed down what was probably its most renowned and controversial decision, holding that the promotion of railroad building was not a public purpose for which the power of taxation could be used. InPeople ex rel. Detroit & Howell Railroad v. Township of Salem, the court took on some of the most powerful economic interests in the state, in what proved to be a very popular decision. The court expressed the widespread revulsion against the public corruption associated with the “Great Barbecue” of the late nineteenth century, as federal and state governments engaged in a...

    • Sherwood v. Walker: Cows and Contracts
      (pp. 169-173)

      In 1887 the Michigan Supreme Court rendered what has come to be considered a seminal decision in the common law of contracts. Generations of American law students have studiedSherwood v. Walker, more popularly known as the “cow case.” Here, Walker and Sherwood agreed to a price of about $80 for an Angus cow (“Rose 2d of Aberlone” was her name) that both understood to be sterile. When the seller discovered that Rose was pregnant, and therefore worth about ten times more than the agreed upon price, he was allowed to cancel the contract. The decision defined the principle of...

    • People v. Beardsley: Law and Morals in the Industrial Age
      (pp. 174-177)

      As the Michigan Supreme Court entered the twentieth century, it began to deal with the problems of the urban and industrial transformation of America that were hinted at inSherwood. The great cases of the first half of the new century concerned crime, compulsory sterilization, labor unrest, and civil rights.

      The supreme court grew along with the state. Michigan’s population doubled between the time of the Civil War and 1880 to 1.3 million people; it rose from the sixteenth to the eighth most populous state in the Union. In 1905, the legislature increased the size of the court from five...

    • Haynes v. Lapeer Circuit Judge: Eugenics in Michigan
      (pp. 178-185)

      In 1918, the Michigan Supreme Court, inHaynes v. Lapeer Circuit Judge, struck down a state law providing for the compulsory sterilization of “mental defectives” in state institutions. But it did so on a narrow basis that presaged a decision, inSmith v. Wayne Probate Judge, seven years later allowing such laws. These decisions were similar to other state court responses to the first wave of American eugenic laws from the late nineteenth century to the First World War. In the 1920s, almost every state court and the U.S. Supreme Court acquiesced in a second wave of eugenic laws. Although...

    • Bolden v. Grand Rapids Operating Company: Civil Rights and the Great Migration
      (pp. 186-189)

      The industrial revolution brought millions of immigrants to American cities. During and after World War I, it brought millions of black migrants from the South to northern cities. Michigan’s civil rights laws were as egalitarian as those of any other state, but questions as to their interpretation and enforcement developed as black migration increased. In the late 1920s, the legislature and supreme court extended and modified Michigan law to keep pace with its growing and increasingly assertive African American population.

      By the end of the nineteenth century, the federal government had largely abandoned the effort to guarantee equal rights to...

    • Book Tower Garage v. United Auto Workers: Michigan’s New Deal
      (pp. 190-195)

      The Great Depression that began in 1929 caused the greatest political upheaval since the Civil War. It ended a seventy-year period of Republican dominance in American politics and turned Michigan from a solidly Republican state into a competitive twoparty state. Above all, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal Democratic Party signaled a popular acceptance of a much larger role for the government in the socioeconomic system. The nineteenth-century political economy of classical or laissez-faire liberalism gave way to a more centrally regulated, bureaucratic order. Organized labor became one of the most powerful interest groups in the New Deal political...

    • People v. Hildabridle: Voelker and the Art of Crafting an Opinion
      (pp. 196-201)

      The centenary of the Michigan Supreme Court saw a famous opinion by the bestknown justice in its history, John D. Voelker. He was better known by his pen name, Robert Traver, and best known for his 1958 novelAnatomy of a Murder, which became a Hollywood film. Voelker, a proud product and vivid chronicler of his beloved Upper Peninsula, spent only three years on the court but wrote some of its most memorable, and certainly most colorful and entertaining, opinions. InPeople v. Hildabridlehe convinced his sharply divided colleagues to overturn the indecent exposure convictions of a group of...

    • In re Huff: Judicial Power and Democracy (I) and Scholle v. Hare: Judicial Power and Democracy (II)
      (pp. 202-210)

      The rising tide of post-New Deal liberalism in both Washington and Michigan had profound constitutional and political effects. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Michigan Supreme Court made bold assertions of judicial power in their constitutional systems. They also used that power to expand egalitarian principles, most significantly by ordering the imposition of a “one person, one vote” standard in legislative apportionment.

      In the mid-1950s, demands by African Americans for equality began to have a major impact in national politics. The U.S. Supreme Court, under Earl Warren, gave the issue great prominence when...

    • O’Neill v. Morse: Unborn Persons in Michigan
      (pp. 211-216)

      The social ferment of 1960s liberalism intensified into a full-blown cultural revolution. Protests originating in the civil rights movement escalated into Black Power and urban riots. Opposition to the Vietnam War, and other student unrest, set American college campuses ablaze. American Indians and other ethnic minorities, the elderly and disabled, and prisoners and homosexuals all organized and protested. The most significant changes were in sex roles and the status of women. Among the most controversial issues of the 1960s—and the one that most concerned the courts—was that of abortion. Across the nation in the late 1960s there were...

    • Placek v. Sterling Heights: Civil Wrongs and the Rights Revolution
      (pp. 217-226)

      The Michigan Supreme Court led the state into a nationwide movement to liberalize tort law. In the twentieth century, and particularly after World War II, states and the federal government altered the common law to make it easier for plaintiffs to bring and win injury suits against manufacturers, physicians, insurance companies, and public utilities. Though these changes in private law were incremental and less visible than changes in constitutional or criminal law, they had enormous public consequences. Michigan took a major step down this road in 1979 when it adopted a more plaintiff-friendly standard of “comparative negligence” in place of...

    • People v. Aaron: Exorcising the Ghost of Felony Murder
      (pp. 227-231)

      In 1980, the Michigan Supreme Court abolished a confused and tangled crime known as “felony murder.” At its most expansive, felony murder meant that if a death occurred while somebody was committing a felony, the felon was guilty of murder, regardless of his motive or role in causing the death. Scholars dispute the origins of the felony murder doctrine, and each state had its own version of the crime. By the end of the twentieth century, many jurists regarded it as a harsh, unfair, out-of-date vestige of the common law, which many states reformed or abolished.

      Ironically, felony murder arose...

    • Toussaint v. Blue Cross: Employee Rights and Wrongful Discharge
      (pp. 232-235)

      For most of American history, employers and workers had an at-will relationship. Workers were free to work or quit, and employers to hire or fire, whenever they wanted, for whatever reasons they wanted. In the late twentieth century, legislatures and courts began to make exceptions to this rule and to give employees rights against wrongful discharge. In 1980, the Michigan Supreme Court became the first state to adopt the “implied contract” principle, holding that certain employer policies automatically gave employees a right to be fired only for good cause.

      American employment law grew out of the medieval English common law...

    • Poletown Neighborhood Council v. Detroit: Private Property and Public Use
      (pp. 236-242)

      In a frantic effort to bolster its crumbling economic base, in 1980 the city of Detroit condemned an entire neighborhood to make room for a new General Motors plant. The residents of the lively, gritty, and integrated working-class neighborhood known as “Poletown” challenged the scheme, claiming that it violated the Michigan Constitution’s provision that government could not use its eminent domain power to transfer property from individuals to private corporations. In a controversial decision, the Michigan Supreme Court rebuffed the challenge, marking a new standard in the law of “takings,” allowing the exercise of eminent domain power for economic development....

    • Ross v. Consumers Power Co.: Suing the State
      (pp. 243-246)

      In a series of cases in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Michigan Supreme Court rewrote the complicated law of governmental immunity. For most of American history, federal, state, and local governments could not be sued in their own courts without their consent. In the twentieth century, legislatures began to extend the right to sue more generally, the Michigan Legislature doing so in the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA) of 1964. What followed, however, was two decades of legal confusion. The supreme court then stepped in with a sweeping reassertion of governmental immunity, which the legislature subsequently accepted and...

    • In re Clausen: Natural versus Adoptive Parents
      (pp. 247-250)

      In 1993, the Michigan Supreme Court brought to an end a bitter child-custody fight that garnered nationwide attention. After an Iowa woman gave up her daughter for adoption then decided she wanted her back, the Michigan adopters of “Baby Jessica” fought to keep her. After nearly two years of litigation, the Michigan Supreme Court, in a decision that struck a major blow to the rights of adoptive parents, ordered that the baby be returned to her natural parents.

      Jan and Roberta DeBoer, unable to conceive a child of their own, sought to adopt one in the early 1990s. Michigan, unlike...

    • People v. Kevorkian: The Right to Die
      (pp. 251-256)

      In 1994, the Michigan Supreme Court made a significant contribution to the late twentieth-century debate over the right to die and the right to physician assistance in exercising it. That year, the court upheld a Michigan statute that outlawed assisted suicide, denying that either Michigan or the United States guaranteed a right to end one’s life. The principal leader of the physician-assisted-suicide movement, Jack Kevorkian, defeated in his effort to assert death as a constitutional right, was ultimately convicted of murder and imprisoned.

      No other case in the Michigan Supreme Court’s history was so much the result of one man’s...

  10. Michigan Supreme Court Elections
    (pp. 257-266)

    Until Michigan’s Constitution of 1850, all members of the territorial and state Michigan Supreme Courts were appointed. The 1850 constitution provided for the division of the state into eight circuits that would each elect a circuit judge in April of odd-numbered years beginning in 1851. The circuit judges would have a term of six years and would hold trials in their circuit courts and also gather in panels to decide appeals as the supreme court. The terms of these elected circuit judges were not scheduled to begin until January 1, 1852, and so in November 1850 a bridge election was...

  11. Factual Chart of Courts by Year
    (pp. 267-280)

    The following chart is a year-by-year listing of the justices who have sat on the Michigan Supreme Court. Some years may have multiple courts listed. This occurs for various reasons. First, there can be an external change that results when one justice leaves and another replaces him or her. Internal changes also happen when the position of chief justice changes within the court. The final reason for multiple courts in a year can be constitutional changes regarding court rules and procedures, such as the number of justices on the court, as well as term limits. It is hoped that individual...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 281-306)
  13. Index
    (pp. 307-312)