History Timeline

The Michigan Supreme Court History Timeline

1805 - 1850
1805
Creation of Territorial Court: Court of Three Appointed by President for Terms “during good behavior”
Creation of Territorial Court

Creation of Territorial Court

1805, March 3
Woodward Appointed to Serve as First Chief Justice.
1805
Frederick Bates is Appointed to the Court.
1805, July 29
First Case Heard by the Supreme Court of the Michigan Territory.
1805, October 8
Woodward Codes are Adopted.
Woodward Codes are Adopted

Woodward Codes are Adopted

1808
James Witherell Joins the Court.
1823
Congressional Act: Court of Three Appointed by President for Four-Year Terms
1828
William Woodbridge Joins the Territorial Supreme Court and Becomes the First of Three Justices Who Go On to Become Governors of the State of Michigan.
1835
State Constitution: Court of Three Appointed by Governor with Consent of the Senate for Seven-Year Terms; Judges to Preside over one of the three Judicial Circuits
1836
Revision of Woodward Codes Begins.
1836, July 18
First Members of the Michigan Supreme Court, Justices Fletcher, Morrell, and Ransom are Appointed by Governor Mason.
1837, January 26
Michigan Granted Statehood.
1838
Revised Statutes: Court of Four Appointed by Governor with Consent of the Senate for Seven-Year Terms; Judges to Preside over one of the four Judicial Circuits
1848
New LawCourt of Five Appointed by Governor for Seven-Year Terms
1850
Michigan Adopts a New Constitution Allowing for Election of Supreme Court Justices to Six Year Terms. In What Is Called the “Noble Experiment,” Justices Also Serve as Circuit Court Justices.
1850 Constitution

1850 Constitution

1850 - 1900
1850
Michigan Adopts a New Constitution Allowing for Election of Supreme Court Justices to Six Year Terms. In What Is Called the “Noble Experiment,” Justices Also Serve as Circuit Court Justices.
1850 Constitution

1850 Constitution

1857
Benjamin F. H. Witherell, Son of James Witherell, Becomes the Only Son of a Former Justice to Serve on the Court.
1858, January 1
Reorganization of the Michigan Supreme Court Providing for a Bench of One Chief Justice and Three Associate Justices. Elected for Eight-Year Terms
1868 – 1875
The “Big Four” Justices Campbell, Christiancy, Cooley and Graves, Sit Together on the Michigan Supreme Court Bench.
The Big Four

The Big Four

1873
Michigan Supreme Court Finds a “Permanent” Home at the State Capitol in Lansing.
The Old Chambers

The Old Chambers

1887
Legislative Act: Court of Five Justices Elected for Ten-Year Term
1890
Justice James V. Campbell Dies After Serving 32 Years on the Court – Longer Than Any Other Justices.
1900 - 1950
1903
Act 250: Court of Eight Justices Elected for Eight-Year Term
1908
Michigan Adopts a New Constitution.
1928
Richard C. Flannigan Becomes the Shortest Sitting Justice by Being a Member of the Court for Only Four Weeks.
1950 to Present
1954
Harry F. Kelly Becomes the First of Three Former Governors to Serve on the Michigan Supreme Court.
Harry Kelly

Harry Kelly

1960
Theodore Souris Becomes the First Justice of Greek Heritage to Sit on the Court.
Theodore Souris

Theodore Souris

1961
Otis M. Smith Becomes the First African-American Justice on the Court.
Otis Smith

Otis Smith

1963
Michigan Adopts a New Constitution that Reduces the Number of Sitting Justices from Eight to Seven. The New Constitution States “The judicial power of the state is vested in one court of justice…The Supreme Court shall have general superintending control over all courts.”
1964
Constitution: Court of Seven, Eight-Year Terms, Justices Elected (no more party conventions)
1969
Thomas E. Brennan Becomes the Court’s Youngest Chief Justice.
Thomas Brennan

Thomas Brennan

1969
The Court Moves to a “Temporary” Home at the G. Mennen Williams Law Building.
G. Mennen Williams

G. Mennen Williams

1973
Mary S. Coleman Becomes the First Woman to Sit on the Michigan Supreme Court.
Mary Coleman

Mary Coleman

1982
Dorothy Comstock Riley Becomes the First Justice of Hispanic Descent to Sit on the Court.
Dorothy Riley

Dorothy Riley

1988
Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society Founded by Chief Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley.
1997
Michigan Becomes the Second State in History, Following Minnesota, to Have a Female Majority on the Supreme Court (The Majority Lasted Only Nine Months).
1997
Conrad L. Mallett, Jr. Becomes the First African-American to Serve as Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.
Conrad Mallett, Jr.

Conrad Mallett, Jr.