Author Archive

Oral Histories Now Online

The oral histories of Justice Charles Levin (MSC 1973-1996) and Justice Patricia Boyle (MSC 1983-1998) are now online via the Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University. To access Justice Levin’s oral history, visit this link. To access Justice Boyle’s oral history, which was recorded on three separate dates, visit this link. Also online is the oral history of Deputy Clerk and Clerk of the Michigan Supreme Court Harold Hoag (MSC 1967-1982) and Erwin Simon, who served as law clerk, and later son-in-law, to Justice Henry Butzel (MSC 1929-1955).

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Email Renewals: All-New

For the first time, the Society is using email to send renewal notices to those members who are not current in their membership with the Society. Please check your email to make sure you have renewed for 2012. And remember, as a 501(c)(3), contributions made to the Society are tax-deductible! To renew, add a membership, or make an additional contribution for 2012, visit this link. Thank you!!!

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Fall Newsletter On Its Way To You!

The Fall issue of the Society Update is in the mail to you as of December 4th. The feature article in this issue is on the recent judicial election. It includes background information on Justice Markman, Justice Zahra, and Justice-Elect McCormack as well as announcement of the date of Justice-Elect McCormack’s investiture ceremony. A tribute to Justice Marilyn Kelly, a page on the U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court Learning Center’s new Domestic Violence exhibit, and photos from the Advocates Guild Dinner round out the issue.

And, as promised, here is the link to the West Wing reunion video that went viral during the campaign. It was actually a political ad for then-candidate Bridget McCormack, whose sister acted in the show. However, the video does a magnificent job of expounding on the importance of voting in judicial elections. Leaving the nonpartisan section of the ballot uncast is, in the words of Josh Lyman, White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Political Adviser to President Bartlet, “A disaster. It’s a catastrophe. It’s an unrivaled cataclysmic event.” Offered for the civic-minded and the West Wing fans among you…

To read the Michigan Constitution visit the Legislature’s website here.

Posted in: Event and Sessions, Membership

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Thomas G. Kavanagh Portrait

The portrait of Thomas G. Kavanagh (MSC 1969-1984) was recently touched up by none other than the man who painted the portrait in 1994, Sam Knecht. Mr. Knecht, who is an artist in the realist tradition, is the chair of the Art Department at Hillsdale College. The medium used for the Kavanagh portrait is egg tempera on a wooden panel. The medium of egg tempera is older than oil painting and uses egg yolks, water, and dry pigments. According to Mr. Knecht, Justice Kavanagh’s portrait took 80 hours to complete. The Kavanagh portrait is so highly detailed that one can actually read the order he holds in his hand. Mr. Knecht’s work in egg tempera was influenced by artist Andrew Wyeth, whose best known work is Christina’s World. The portrait of Justice Kavanagh is set in the Court’s old courtroom in the Capitol. That courtroom was still in use when Justice Kavanagh joined the Court in 1969; the Court moved to its temporary quarters in the law building on March 3, 1970. The portrait of Thomas Kavanagh now hangs in the entry to the Supreme Court courtroom on the sixth floor of the Hall of Justice. It was dedicated nearly 18 years ago, on August 30, 1994.

The Michigan Supreme Court has had in its history two justices named Thomas Kavanagh. Thomas Matthew Kavanagh was elected first, in 1958. The situation was made more confusing by the fact that their terms on the state’s highest court overlapped. Thus, the two were designated by their middle initials. Thomas Giles became known as Thomas the Good and Thomas Matthew was known as Thomas the Mighty. Thomas the Mighty passed away while on the Court on April 19, 1975.

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SBM Fathers Day Sampler Features MSC Father-Son

In its Fathers Day Sampler, the State Bar of Michigan Blog featured the only father-son combo to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court, James and Benjamin Witherell. The father, James Witherell, was the third territorial justice and served from 1808-1828. Son Benjamin served in 1857. Read more about James and Benjamin in their biographies here on our website.

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Conrad L. Mallett, Jr. Portrait Presented

The portrait of former Chief Justice Conrad L. Mallett, Jr. was presented to the Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 25, in a special session of the Court. To watch online, visit the Virtual Court on the State Bar of Michigan’s website. Mallett was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court by Governor James Blanchard in 1990. He was subsequently re-elected in 1992 and 1994. He was elected Chief Justice in 1997 and was the first African American Chief Justice on the Michigan Supreme Court. Mallett left the Court in 1999. The portrait of Mallett was painted by Washington, D.C. artist Simmie Knox. Mr. Knox’s other notable portrait commissions include the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon Keith, former President Bill Clinton, Muhammed Ali, and Bill Cosby.

Posted in: Event and Sessions, Membership, Research

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Annual Luncheon Recap

The Annual Membership Luncheon at the Detroit Athletic Club was held Thursday, April 19. The historical vignette was presented by Lawrence Glazer, author of Wounded Warrior: The Rise and Fall of Michigan Governor John Swainson. Read more about the luncheon in the Detroit Legal News.

Society members receive an exclusive discount on the book. Visit MSU Press and enter the code M031201 at checkout to purchase the book for $20.00, nearly half the regular publisher’s price of $39.95.

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Women’s History Month

There are only a few days left in the month of March, however, celebrating the historic accomplishments of women can continue all year. Visit the Women and the Law section of our website to learn about Michigan women who’ve blazed a trail in the legal field. Then be sure to visit our membership page to renew or begin a membership that will help us fund a permanent exhibit featuring the early women of the Court.

Additionally, our friends at the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame recently opened a new exhibit entitled Women Who Dared to Lead, which features photos and biographies of several important women in the law, including our first woman justice Mary Stallings Coleman, Society founder Dorothy Comstock Riley, and former Justices Patricia Boyle and Elizabeth Weaver. The exhibit runs into next February and can be viewed during regular visiting hours for the museum, which is located at 213 W. Malcom X Street, Lansing 48933.

Shown in this photo are the exhibit label for Justices Coleman and Boyle, and a campaign sign from Justice Boyle’s re-election campaign. Read more about Patricia Boyle’s impressive legal career in her Hall of Fame biography.

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Presidents Day

As Americans, we will celebrate Presidents Day on Monday, February 20th. The holiday honors the legacies of all U.S. Presidents and coincides with the birthdays of George Washington (Feb 22) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb 12). A glance at the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Reference Guide shows that February is a busy month for the birthdays of historic Michigan Supreme Court justices. There are 11 birthdays in this short month. In fact, the only month that has the same number of historic Michigan Supreme Court justice birthdays is August.

This month we celebrate the lives of the following Michigan Supreme Court justices:

Feb 8 Franz C. Kuhn and John S. McDonald; Feb 17 John W. Champlin; Feb 19 Ross Wilkins; Feb 20 Otis Smith; Feb 21 George H. Durand; Feb 23 G. Mennen Williams; Feb 24 Howard Wiest; Feb 25 James V. Campbell; Feb 27 Blair Moody, Jr.; Feb 28 Samuel Douglass

Read more about these historic figures, see their official portraits, and even listen to oral history interviews by following the links. You will find that this impressive list includes a former Governor, the first African American justice, and a member of the Big Four.

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