JUNE 20, 1984
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: The Supreme Court is happy to welcome everyone here today for this special occasion, for the presentation of the portrait of Justice HARRY KELLY. We’re delighted to see such a turnout of family, friends, and distinguished visitors, whom we will recognize in due course.
However, to proceed with the matter I will call upon Joel M. Boyden, President of the Michigan State Bar.
MR. JOEL BOYDEN: Mister Chief Justice, justices and friends, and the family of Justice HARRY KELLY:
It is a privilege for me to be here again representing the more than 23,000 members of the State Bar of Michigan, in another portrait ceremony.
As you probably all know, the ultimate goal of this particular program is to secure a likeness of all who have served as justice in this Court, for these halls and for these chambers. For me, this is I believe, the fourth such ceremony involving some six past justices, in which I’ve been assigned this leadoff spot. Aside from the fact that I don’t have the physical characteristics normally assigned to a leadoff man, it has indeed been a great honor to so serve. From the experience and vantage point of four of these ceremonies, there are certain things that I would observe.
First, in looking at the Irish names of the majority of those justices for which I have previously served this office, names like BRENNAN, and O’HARA, and of course O’SMITH and now Justice KELLY. And observing the present roster of the Court with its C(K)AVANAGHS, its RYAN, and its BOYLE, and of course its “MC” LEVIN. All of this suggests to me that if you are an aspirant to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court, you might arrange to be born into an Irish family. Or failing that, change your name so that it appears as if you were. It doesn’t matter.
On this occasion, it’s also particularly gratifying for me to note that through the initiative of the State Bar, and the splendid cooperation of the Court and the Court’s staff, and the financial assistance of the State Bar foundation, the portraits each have affixed to them a brass identification plate. And I think that adds immeasurably to the collection, which I hope will grow to include each person who has served as a justice. And, if nothing else, it allows the opportunity for portrait tourists, as they wander through the chambers and the halls, to pause briefly before the portrait of Justice RANSOM, and bet with one another as to who can most easily mispronounce that great tongue twister of a first name, Epaphroditus. But I am very pleased to be a part of the welcoming of the picture of Justice HARRY F. KELLY to the panoply of portraits which now adorns this particular courtroom, and the chambers which surround it.
Justice KELLY was, first and foremost, a fine lawyer, and served this Court with distinction for some 17 years, from 1954 to 1971. And so from the State Bar of Michigan to his family and to his friends, and to all of us who are his admirers, our congratulations, and our thanks for allowing us to be a part of this wonderful occasion. Thank you.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you very much, Mr. Boyden.
It’s next my honor to present, on behalf of the family, Mrs. Joanne Kelly Hagopian of Darien, Connecticut, daughter, and she will say her say, and perhaps be so gracious as to introduce the rest of the family that is here.
Thank you, Justice WILLIAMS. Since I am the oldest of the six Kelly children, I’ve been asked to introduce the rest of our large family to the Court, and to anyone in the audience who may not know all of us.
I would like to begin with my mother, Anne O’Brien Kelly, who is certainly the most important person here today. And my father’s brother, Jerome Kelly, who has come from Florida just for this occasion today. My husband, Lou Hagopian, flew in this morning from Darien, Connecticut, with our three children, Susan, Tom, and Mathew, who were able to take the day off from their jobs in New York City. My bother Harry, unfortunately could not come from Los Angeles with his three children, Scott, Colleen, and Harry Francis, III. But my bother Brian is here from California. His children, Hallie and Devin are in school in England and couldn’t be here. My brother Larry is here from Ann Arbor with three of his four children. Laura is working in Washington, D.C. and couldn’t come for the day. But David, Andrea, and Elizabeth are here. My brother Roger was unable to cancel a speech that was scheduled some time ago. He is giving it today in New Jersey, so he is missing this. But his wife Jackie is here from Bloomfield Hills with three of their four children. Julie is working as a lay missionary in Jamaica. But Kevin and Molly are here. Has Kathy arrived? Yes. Roger and Jackie’s oldest daughter Kathy is here. She has the triple distinction of being the first one of her generation to marry. Her husband Phil Swanson is here, I hope. There he is. She also has presented my mother with her first great-grandchild, Ryan Phillip, who is one month old, and is here today. She’s also the first member of her generation to continue the family legal tradition, she is in her second year at the Detroit College of Law. My sister Mary James is here from Saginaw, with her husband Tom. And their three children–four children, sorry guys, Anne, Brian, Kate, and Andrew. Tom is an attorney, and he has offered to make the biographical remarks about my father, since he was very close to my father. We felt that perhaps he could be more objective about his life and career than those of us who are his children.
I would like to thank the Court for this chance to celebrate my father’s life one more time. I think we all feel that the State of Michigan was very lucky to have him as Secretary of State and Governor, and as Supreme Court Justice. I think we would all say that we perhaps were more lucky to have him as a father, and to be lucky enough to have my mother as a mother. That they did a marvelous job as parents, in addition to the other good things he did. And it’s nice for us to have this one chance to say that again. Thank you very much.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you very much, Mrs. Hagopian. I wonder if all the Kelly family will stand up so we can have a good look.
My purpose was twofold. I not only wanted everybody to have the opportunity to see the Kellys, but I just wondered whether by chance there were any nonbelievers here.
It’s next my pleasure to introduce attorney Thomas F. James, of Saginaw, who as you just heard is a son-in-law, who is going to do his best to give us an impartial biography of Justice KELLY.
MR. THOMAS F. JAMES: Thank you, Mister Chief Justice, justices of the Court. As indicated, my name is Tom James, and I am a member of the State Bar of Michigan. As pointed out, I was HARRY KELLY’s son-in-law.
We thought it would be appropriate this afternoon to outline for you in brief from the biography of Justice KELLY. We don’t do this for those present in the audience, or even for the benefit of the Court. It was felt rather that future generations of lawyers, perhaps of a different age and different era would benefit in knowing a bit about the man whom you honor this afternoon. And with the Court’s indulgence, therefore, I will place these remarks on the record.
HARRY KELLY was born in 1895, in Ottawa, Illinois. He was the oldest son of a family of nine, of Henry and Molly Kelly. He attended school in his hometown.
After his graduation, Justice KELLY’S father, a well-respected Illinois trial lawyer, requested that his son read the law with him in his office prior to initiating his formal legal studies. Justice KELLY spent a year in his father’s law office assisting him, prior to entering the University of Notre Dame Law School. Prior to his graduation in 1917, an assassin’s bullet shattered one hundred years of peace and the world was at war. The entire Notre Dame graduating law class joined this country’s call to arms as members of the American Expeditionary Force.
Justice KELLY served his country in battle. In the battle of Chateau-Thierry, he led an assault upon an entrenched German machine-gun position, and lost his right leg. For his valiant efforts on behalf of the people of France, Justice KELLY was awarded the highest tribute paid by the people of France to a non Frenchman, the Croix de Guerre with palm leaves.
He returned from France as one of America’s first national war heroes, and joined the American Liberty bond drive, which enlisted American support for this new American army. Because of the injuries he received, and because of the rigors of the bond drive, Justice KELLY cut short his tour and returned to his hometown to join his father and brother in the practice of law.
The First World War molded Justice KELLY into a disciplined man, and a disciplined soldier. In 1920, he was elected by the people of LaSalle County, Illinois, as its State’s Attorney, similar to our Prosecuting Attorney. He served in that capacity for six years. During his term as State’s Attorney his family left their hometown and traveled to Detroit where his father and younger brother Emmett initiated the practice of law under the firm name of Kelly and Kelly. Justice KELLY remained in Ottawa to serve out his term as State’s Attorney and wind down the family practice. He then joined his father and brother in the Detroit firm of Kelly, Kelly and Kelly.
He was married to Anne O’Brien in 1929. They were to have six children whom you have been introduced to, Joanne, Brian, Harry, Larry, Roger, and my wife Mary.
In 1932, a well known Detroit radio broadcaster and political commentator was gunned down in the lobby of the Detroiter Hotel. It was thought that his death was related to organized crime and political corruption. The Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney, Harry Toy, called upon young HARRY KELLY to serve as the Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the people of the State of Michigan, in Michigan’s first one-man grand jury. This was known as the Buckley Grand Jury, named after Jerry Buckley, the man who was murdered.
At the conclusion of the Buckley Grand Jury, HARRY KELLY was selected by Governor Fitzgerald to head the Detroit area Liquor Control Commission, then a troubled state agency, without rules, without regulations, and infested by political favoritism. He initiated those necessary rules, and brought an end to political cronyism to that department. Shortly thereafter, Harry was asked by Governor Fitzgerald to serve the people of the State of Michigan as the Republican candidate for the office of Secretary of State. KELLY agreed, and was elected, and initiated his service to the people of the state.
Approximately six months after his election, Governor Fitzgerald died suddenly, and his Lieutenant Governor, Luren Dickinson, ascended to the Governor’s chair. Governor Dickinson, at that time an aged and ailing man, called more and more upon the assistance of the Secretary of State, and for approximately two years Harry acted as chief counsel and confidante to Governor Dickinson.
It was then only logical that the Republican party would ask its Secretary of State to serve the people as its candidate for governor in the 1940 elections.
Justice KELLY was elected Governor of the State of Michigan in 1941, and was Michigan’s governor during the war years. He was popularly known as Michigan’s “War Governor.”
The headlines in the Michigan daily and weekly newspapers at that time were crowded with news of Anzio, Monte Cassino, Belsen, Buchenwald, and Dachau. And while the war raged in Italy, France, and Germany, a different war was being fought in Michigan. It was a war on behalf of the worker injured during the course of his employment. It was a war waged on behalf of the victims of mental disease. It was a war waged on behalf of the environment. And during the KELLY years, the first major revamp of Michigan’s Workers’ Compensation Act was initiated. The first revision of the State Health Code was adopted. And some of the strongest environmental protection battles were fought, creating and preserving for this state parks such as the Porcupine Mountains.
It was also a period of change for the Michigan Republican Party, and Harry initiated the traditions to be followed by Governors Romney and Milliken, which led his party nationally from a period of isolationism to a period of internationalism. It was surprising, although not an uncharacteristic move, when Governor KELLY soon after his election for a second term as governor announced that he would not be a candidate to succeed himself. He chose rather to devote his time and energies to his first calling, the practice of law, and to his family.
Governor KELLY then returned to the private practice of law in Detroit, where he remained until his party called again in 1950 for him to seek election as governor. He entered the primaries and won. The election in the fall of 1950 stands as the closest election in Michigan history, Chief Justice WILLIAMS winning the election from Governor KELLY by less than one vote per Michigan precinct.
Justice KELLY again returned to Detroit and the practice of law. Again, his party called, and in 1953 he was selected as the Michigan Republicans’ unanimous choice as a candidate for the Supreme Court. Justice KELLY, as Mr. Boyden has mentioned, was elected to the Supreme Court of Michigan in 1954, and remained on the high bench until 1971.
Justice KELLY’S seventeen years on the Michigan Court, like his years as governor, were not untroubled times. Yet KELLY, always a man of conviction, courage, and character, remained a steadfast supporter of the rule of stare decisis. For me, or any lawyer, to be as presumptuous as to characterize the many opinions written by Justice KELLY, or for that matter any member of the Court, would be unseemly. Suffice it to say that Justice KELLY’S calming influence, strong personality, and legal training had a great impact on his fellow members of the Court, and consequently upon the law of Michigan. I believe Justice SMITH and BRENNAN can speak more eloquently than I of his years on the bench.
Allow me however, if you will, to add a personal note. I did not know Justice KELLY when he served as Secretary of State or Governor. I met him when he was in somewhat failing health, yet characteristically he refused to allow his poor health to slow down his active life, his active mind, or his devotion to duty. He was a Christian gentleman, a family man, a politician, a statesman, and a jurist. I have been enriched by his friendship, as have the people of the state by his leadership, and the law by his simplicity and honesty.
When he died in 1972, Chief Judge Clifford O’Sullivan of the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals gave his eulogy. Judge O’Sullivan reminded those who attended his friend’s funeral that Justice KELLY entered this world in the late Nineteenth Century, and died after a man took that first small step, yet giant leap for mankind. Throughout his lifetime Justice KELLY gave as a man, he gave as a father, he gave as a servant to the public. He was, I think, a man for all seasons.
This then, in summary, is the biography of the man whom you honor today; it is a great tradition which you follow, and I believe he is a great model for this Court.
Thank you, justices.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you very much, Mr. James. Those of you who counted the number of justices might have noticed that we are one short.
But I think HARRY KELLY wouldn’t mind, because Justice MICHAEL FRANCIS CAVANAGH is in the old sod, Ireland, teaching. And I am sure that in spirit he is here recognizing a brother.
May I now introduce a former colleague of ours, Chief Justice BRENNAN, who will make the next presentation.
MR. THOMAS E. BRENNAN: Mister Chief Justice WILLIAMS, may I begin with a word of personal felicitation to you, and I know that I speak for all of those on this side of the bench, to say how gratified we are to see you in such fine good health, and serving the people of this state.
Mister Chief Justice WILLIAMS, Justice KAVANAGH, Justice LEVIN and Justice RYAN, and Justice BRICKLEY, Justice BOYLE, may it please the Court: I am honored to respond to the invitation of the Kelly family to participate in these happy and memorable proceedings. You see, HARRY KELLY was my hero. Now I know that assertion is made at the risk of raising the suspicions of some who will recall that HARRY KELLY was the last Irish Catholic Republican Governor of Michigan. But HARRY KELLY has always been a special hero of mine. And the privilege of serving with him on this Court for four years from 1967 through 1970 enriched the treasure of my memory with a gallery of pictures of Mister Justice KELLY, my friend and colleague.
He was confined to a wheelchair during all of that time. One leg had been lost, as you’ve heard, in the service of his nation on the battlefield of World War I. The other had been sacrificed less dramatically, but no less certainly, in a lifetime of service to the State of Michigan. Still, he was cheerful and crusty and vigorous. Full of stories and full of fight. In the old Court chambers on the third floor of the Capitol Justice KELLY would be wheeled into the courtroom after the other members of the Court were seated on the bench. In those days before widespread handicap access laws he remained on the floor level, his wheelchair stationed near the Clerk’s desk, just inside the chamber door. But his booming voice and his perceptive questions would arrest the attention of counsel as surely as if he had been speaking from the loftiest perch in the courtroom.
HARRY KELLY was a good lawyer. His long experience in the courtroom seasoned his style of debate. And when he took a position at the conference table he would support his view with tough-minded and practical reasons, and he gave ground only when he saw no important legal principle endangered.
HARRY KELLY gave us a great example of personal courage as well as dedication to public duty. We knew that he was often in pain, and often uncomfortable. He had a very strong sense of obligation and a deep concern that his disability should never be perceived as a reason for not doing a full share of the work of the Court. On those rare occasions when he hoped to be relieved of a particularly burdensome assignment, his approach was uncharacteristically circuitous and guarded. He always started with a homey little story about how he used to play a lot of poker, and how he once felt he had a full house or a straight flush, but lately he was feeling like he was holding no better than a pair of deuces. And of course, I should understand that when a fellow holds a pair of deuces, he has to play them pretty close to the vest. I valued his counsel. I can still see him, the ever-present cigarette in hand, leaning on one elbow, and confirming a confidential conversation with the question, “Now we’re talking in the dugout here, aren’t we?” To him the dugout was the place of mutual fellowship and trust, where we could be teammates in the enterprise of public service.
HARRY KELLY was a legal traditionalist. At a time when the Court was beginning extensively to exercise its quasi-legislative and administrative powers, he often cautioned restraint. I remember his frequent call for a moratorium on new court rules, a position which would have found great favor among members of the bar then, and I suspect even now.
And HARRY KELLY could be an activist too. He had a visceral sense of right and wrong which never failed him. And when he felt that the Court should act, even though the precedent for action was unclear, he would smile and suggest that we could at least issue a writ of arousal. Now I never looked up writ of arousal in Black’s Law Dictionary. Perhaps I was afraid that it might not be there. Anyway, we all understood what was the office of the writ. During my years on the Court, a few writs of arousal were issued under various names.
I remember HARRY KELLY as a judge, as a colleague, as a mentor, and as a friend. But of all my pictures of him, one seems to stand out. The Kellys were entertaining the members of the Court and their spouses at their summer home near Gaylord. Justice KELLY had a specially outfitted electric vehicle on which he was able to move quite easily around the property. Late that afternoon he drove out on the dock, lowered himself into the water and began to swim out into the lake. Though he was in his seventies, he had a strong and steady stroke. And soon he was several hundred yards from shore, moving smoothly and noiselessly through the water. Watching him from the dock, I was impressed by his determination, his strength, and his self-confidence.
I remembered that my mother and dad had spoken often of HARRY KELLY when I was a young boy in Detroit. He was a lawyer who had married one of the O’Brien girls, and had gotten up in the world, being elected Secretary of State, and later Governor of Michigan. I understood in my youth that HARRY KELLY was a man to be admired, respected, and emulated. And largely because of his example and reputation I grew up in the belief that public service was honorable and that election to public office signified the recognition and approval of the community.
And now there was alone on that broad lake, the afternoon sun fading behind the pine forest, symbolizing the twilight of his own day. And he was still a man to be respected. Still an example to be emulated. Still, despite his infirmities, a hero, worthy of admiration.
And so, if it please the Court, let his portrait adorn these walls, and let his memory remain lively. A gift to the bench and bar of future generations, and a gift to a world always in need of real heroes. Thank you.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you very much, Tom, you haven’t lost the eloquence that you so often showed here on the Court, which we appreciate.
May I now call on another Irishman. I can’t remember his name, whether it was “O’Smith” or “McSmith.” But in any event, Otis, we would be very glad to hear from you and what you wish to say about Justice KELLY.
MR. OTIS M. SMITH: Thank you, Mister Chief Justice. Members of the Court, distinguished members of the bench and bar, and the members of the family of my late colleague, HARRY F. KELLY, and also the friends of the memory of HARRY KELLY:
For over five years, between 1961 and 1966, I sat next to Justice KELLY on this bench. It was a time in the life of the Court just immediately after the monumental decisions of the United States Supreme Court in Baker v Carr, and later Reynolds v Sims. Within about ten days after the decision in Reynolds, which ordered for the first time one man, one vote apportionment for state legislatures, this Court applied the Reynolds doctrine to Michigan. And as a result, Michigan became the first and the purest one man, one vote Legislature in the nation. On his visit to our state conference, the late Chief Justice Warren warmly said to this Court, and I’m quoting, “You were the first to decide, and the others fell over like ten-pins.”
It was also a time in the life of this Court when we adopted the General Court Rules abolishing the procedural distinction between law and equity. It was also a time when we had to establish rules for the newly established–newly created– Court of Appeals. And there were cases of first impression in the areas of governmental immunity, and automobile personal injury litigation. In short, they were exciting and difficult years, and to me, as I served my novitiate as a judge, my seatmate and friend, HARRY KELLY, was one of the best examples of the industry and the objectivity which every judge ought to possess. Justice KELLY through prodigious effort was one of the top producers of opinions, as the Michigan Reports attest. And he was not doctrinaire. Though steeped in conservative philosophy he had the great capacity for seeing problems in human terms. In the close and confined quarters of the conference rooms of the appellate courts of this country, frictions are not uncommon, I have found. And I confess that on our Court at the time, there were some differences that were other than doctrinal. But HARRY KELLY took no part in them, and would frequently pour oil on troubled waters. He was liked and respected by each and every member of the Court.
After a long hard day of hearings and conferences, the members of our Court would often turn to the tranquil conversation about families. They might ask Harry about his son the lawyer, about his son the doctor. And we would get a succinct briefing that was frequently coupled with an observation from his dear wife, Anne. And then in this vein I can recall and remember what great pride he showed in announcing that their youngest daughter, Mary, was about to leave the nest, as he said, to be married to a fine gentleman, Mr. Thomas James. And with sweet sorrow he marked the passing of this event in the life of the Kelly family. He said at the time that he had never acquired a lot of property, no share in one of the Fortune 500. But that he was blessed with a loving family which had enriched him beyond all worldly possessions.
Once, when the late Chief Justice THOMAS MATTHEW KAVANAGH and I, while out on the hustings, dropped in to see Justice KELLY at his home near Gaylord, Mrs. Kelly helped us find him in the boat out on the lake. It was undoubtedly one of his favorite spots in all the world. And I always fancied that he did some of his best thinking in this, his Shangri-La. In any event, it was his place of repose where he could be alone with God and nature. Whatever may have been our doctrinal differences, I admired HARRY KELLY as a human being. He was good-humored despite illness and handicap. And he worked hard and served the people of Michigan honestly and effectively by judging its people wisely. I profited greatly from the association, and when I had to leave the Court, he grasped my hand, and with a tear in his eye he said, “Otis, I’m going to miss you,” and I knew he meant it. We miss you too, Harry, wherever you are. And we think we know where that is. But we are happy that your being and countenance will grace these walls in perpetuity. Thank you, Mister Chief Justice and members of the Court.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you.
The Court wants to apologize that the Chief Justice wasn’t sufficiently instructed on the pronunciation of Mr. William F. Braeuninger’s name. Braeuninger. That’s an Irish pronunciation, Mr. Braeuninger, a former law clerk to Justice KELLY will step forward, the floor is his.
MR. WILLIAM BRAEUNINGER: Thank you very much, Mister Chief Justice. You stand in a long tradition of mispronouncers of my name, including yours truly. I do not pronounce it correctly either. It’s something like Braun-inger, with the umlaut. But long ago it became Bran-inger, despite the amalgamation of vowels in the name.
Mister Chief Justice, distinguished justices of the Supreme Court, Mrs. Kelly, members of the Kelly family, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: I unfortunately cannot speak with the eloquence of either Justice BRENNAN or Justice SMITH. I will not apologize for that, I will just forewarn you that I will be somewhat staccato perhaps in my presentation inasmuch as my remarks are somewhat extemporaneous.
Particularly in that regard, a lot of memories came flooding back based upon the remarks by both Justice BRENNAN and Justice SMITH. And I would like to, on behalf of myself, affirm, amen, and echo the comments they have made, because they are truly correct, and an accurate reflection of Justice KELLY.
In particular, I am happy to again be with Justice SMITH for a small period of time, because I was fortunate to be a clerk to Justice KELLY beginning in September of 1963, and continuing through June of 1965, which as you well recall was a period which was encompassed in the tenure of Justice SMITH.
At the time I first came to Lansing in September of 1966, after having just taken the bar exam in Ann Arbor, Judge KELLY and Mrs. Kelly were living permanently in Gaylord. They had the place on the lake which has been mentioned previously. They also had a separate house closer to town where they lived in the wintertime. The Lansing office at that time was staffed by one person, Mrs. Hillock, the secretary, who was a wonderful woman, and was in complete and utter control of the situation. She was a long-time secretary to Justice KELLY, and was a good right arm to him throughout his career on the Supreme Court.
When I came to Lansing in September of 1963, I was assigned, along with two other clerks, one of whom happened to be the clerks to Justice SMITH, to a room which was immediately adjacent to the judges’ conference room on the east side of the third-floor rotunda. The room had four roll-top desks. These were alleged to be the original desks used by the original four justices of the Michigan Supreme Court, and at that time were out of commission, shall I say, having been put in a room occupied by four lowly clerks. However, we were happy to have that accommodation, and enjoyed having the opportunity to sit at the desk of a Michigan Supreme Court justice of long ago.
In September of 1963, as had been mentioned, the Michigan Court of Appeals did not exist. Neither, might I add, did the Supreme Court have any commissioners. The operation was by today’s standards probably very bare-boned. We had eight justices. We had Mr. Donald Winters, who was the Clerk. Mr. Clyde Sprague was the Crier, his son Phillip was the Assistant Crier. Mr. George Pickett was a general all-around handyman and resident philosopher. Mr. Hiram Bond was the Reporter, and Mr. Jack Borst, who now serves as a commissioner of the Michigan Court of Appeals, was his assistant. Those people, along with the secretaries and law clerks–that was the entire Supreme Court. As has also been mentioned, we were on the third floor of the Capitol. The Supreme Court chamber, the judges’ conference room, the Clerk’s office, the Crier’s office were on the east side. And the justices’ chambers and the secretaries’ offices were on the west side.
At the time that I first arrived in Lansing, Judge KELLY left instructions with Mrs. Hillock regarding what I should do with respect to the cases that had been assigned to him for the September term. And, in particular, he wanted a legal memorandum as to certain issues in a case that was to be argued in September.
With the eagerness of a newly graduated lawyer I plunged in. However, much to my dismay, repeated readings of the filed briefs shed little discernible light on the legal issues, at least as far as I was concerned. Naturally my concern heightened as I experienced difficulty in meeting the assignment. I cannot honestly remember exactly what I was able to come up with, if anything. However, I do recall with absolute clarity that when Judge KELLY arrived in Lansing, and we commenced review of the several cases that I had been working on, he quickly advised me that the briefs in the one particular case were especially bad, and that he would assume full responsibility for analyzing the case. This initial situation was most revealing to me, and also comforting. Because it demonstrated that Judge KELLY’S modus operandi was not one of intimidation and pressure, but rather was that of a person who realized his new clerk was struggling somewhat, and needed reassurance and guidance. Having survived, or at least so I thought, this trauma, I was then able to go forward in the position.
In January 1964, I had the distinct pleasure of being admitted to the Bar of the State of Michigan before the Supreme Court under the sponsorship of Judge KELLY. By that time we had settled into the routine that was to continue until June of 1965. Judge KELLY would travel to Gaylord–would travel from Gaylord, excuse me, each month for oral arguments. Judge and Mrs. KELLY stayed in a motel efficiency located on the north side of Lansing. Each morning I would pick up the judge in my little Falcon, which was the first car I had ever owned, and, given the physical difficulties that he had at that time, as has been indicated previously, it was somewhat of a struggle for Mrs. Kelly and me to get the judge from his wheelchair into the car. But we always managed. We drove down to the Capitol where we were usually met by Mr. Pickett, who would help us get the wheelchair out of the trunk of the car, assist the judge in getting into the wheelchair, whereupon George, as we all affectionately knew him, would wheel the judge into the Supreme Court.
To the best of my knowledge, and I may be mistaken, but to the best of my knowledge, only one time during the two years that I was there did the judge ever enter his chambers in Lansing. He would always go directly from the back of the Capitol to the elevator, up the elevator to the Supreme Court chambers, which are on the opposite side of the rotunda, and into the conference room where he would remain except during the time that oral argument was being given before the Court, for the balance of the day, until at the end of the day after the judges’ conference in the afternoon, I would take him back to the motel.
Between his trips to Lansing, we communicated primarily by tape. And as you all know, in the 1960’s the sophistication of tape machines and other devices of communication were far removed from now. In particular I recall, from some of the remarks that Justice SMITH made regarding the ever-present cigarette, that all too frequently the memoranda that would come to me by way of response or direction or whatever, would be littered with cigarette burns, coffee stains, and various other minutiae that had accumulated in the judge’s working space in Gaylord. And on many an occasion Mrs. Hillock and I had a good laugh over the status of the documents that we were receiving in Lansing.
Over the period of my clerkship I developed a tremendous respect and affection for Judge KELLY, not only as a jurist, but as a person. Here was a man who had enjoyed many honors, and had risen to the highest governmental office in the State of Michigan. Yet never did he in any way exhibit the arrogant or selfish pride that is all too often associated with a person who has accomplished so much. If we are lucky, each of us experience along the way one or more persons who have a significant impact upon our life. In my case, both personally and as a lawyer, Judge KELLY was such a person. As a fledgling lawyer, he held me to a work product standard which stood me in good stead over and over again once I entered private practice. Equally important, I think, was his ability to get along with others, and maintain a position as a judge without alienating or offending those with whom he disagreed. As Justice SMITH has already remarked, and as some of you may perhaps recall, the Supreme Court in 1963 through 1965, and for a few years prior thereto and after, was composed of several very strong personalities. Justice KELLY and Justice SMITH were, at least as far as the law clerks were concerned, the bridges between certain judges, and the two judges who kept things on an even keel. Being associated with a person having these capabilities provides a valuable experience which proved to be of immeasurable value in my own relationship with clients and other lawyers. Judge KELLY was both a positive and warm person, and one immensely respected for his ability. On behalf of all his clerks, if I may be permitted to be so bold, I want to express to Mrs. Kelly and all the Kelly family the gratitude of those of us who had the opportunity to be associated with Judge KELLY. It was, and is, an experience to be treasured forever. Thank you.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you very much.
Am I correctly informed, Rollie, that you also clerked for the justice? Would you like to say a word? We ought to have the Polish side of this question.
And I found that out through a mutual friend of ours. So I, unfortunately, did not speak Polish, but my sisters took me aside and taught me some “jak sie masz,” and “dzie kije” and “babcia” [how are you; thank you; grandmama]. And when I got in the next day I met Sig Beras, and gave him a few of these popular terms of endearment in Polish, and I got a high mark apparently, because I passed to the next stage of meeting Justice KELLY. And I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day, because here I was, the son of a Polish bar owner going out to meet a former Governor of Michigan, now a Supreme Court justice. And my sentiments were a little mixed, because I was, frankly, quite frightened. But the man sat me down there, and within five minutes I was completely at ease. He checked out my legal credentials, and then we found we had a common bond in sports, and from there on it was all uphill.
I wanted to echo the sentiments of this law clerk, that there are people in your life that impact and have significance, and I have to say that I consider myself a most privileged and fortunate person in having known not only HARRY KELLY, but Anne Kelly and the Kelly family, because they made me at that time in my life feel very much a part of their family. They were very kind and gracious to me at all times.
I think when it’s over for me, if somebody will say, “Kelly did a pretty good job with that kid,” I’ll be satisfied. Thank you.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: The Court would like to recognize Justice and Mrs. Adams. Do you want to stand, Paul?
And we also recognize the Attorney General, Frank Kelley.
And the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, Robert Danhof.
Next to him is Michael Franck, Secretary of the Michigan Bar.
And I think Professor Otto Stockmeyer, President of the Michigan Bar Foundation, is here.
Are there any judges here that I have missed? We don’t want to start a tradition of not recognizing them. I understand that one of the important people of Lansing of my time, and Justice Kelly’s is here, Bill Kulsea of the Booth Newspapers. Do you want to stand?
Before I make any remarks I want to ask the Irish Bench here if they’d like to say anything. Justice Boyle, do you have any remarks?
JUSTICE BOYLE: I’ll pass my speech.
JUSTICE BRICKLEY: Well, I can’t pass this up, because I’m sitting here reminiscing. When I was in my first year of law school, my father said one night, I’m going to my lawyer’s house to talk to him about something, and I want you to come along with me. If you think you’re going to be a lawyer, I want to show you a real one. And we went to your home, was it on Boston Boulevard? Chicago Boulevard. And a beautiful home you had there. And I remember going there, and being in some awe, as this man whom I’d known as Governor proceeded to go over some of my father’s papers, and took the pencil, and with great detail and specificity went over every word and every sentence, and every paragraph of whatever the document was. And when we left, my father said, now you see, of all the things he has been, and he has done, see what a good lawyer he is, and how particular and careful he was? That’s what being a good lawyer is all about. So that happens to be in my mind today as I sit here watching you and your beautiful family.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: I wondered what made him so persnickety.
JUSTICE LEVIN: I would only add my admiration and respect for Justice Kelly as a practitioner, and for a short time as a Judge of the Court of Appeals while he was a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you, Justice Levin. Justice Ryan?
JUSTICE RYAN: I wish I had known Justice Kelly earlier, and better. But that hasn’t interfered with the fact that he’s one of my heroes. Not in the way Justice Brennan was able to claim, but on the basis of his performance as a public servant. And a statement of his, which my children have heard about over and over, I share with you, Mrs. Kelly. When he was asked why would a man who’s been Governor, who’s been Secretary of State, who’s as prominent as you are, move your children out of Blessed Sacrament parish, and out of St. Mary’s in Lansing and go up to Gaylord? And his answer was alleged to have been, “There are no bad boys up north.”
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: I think he was just preparing the way for our Archbishop Sfoka.
JUSTICE KAVANAGH: If I may, as the last of Harry’s colleagues still on the bench, I loved him, I admired him. I love all the Kellys. God bless you all.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you, Justice Kavanagh.
Perhaps there is no one here who knows the mettle of Harry Kelly better than I. As pointed out, a difference of a few thousand votes might have made a great difference to Harry Kelly and to me. Harry Kelly might have come to the Supreme Court a great deal later, after a further distinguished term as Governor. And if the vote had come against me, I would have lost my seat as Governor, and might never have come to this Court. So the year 1950 was an exceedingly important and interesting one for me. Some people reading the newpapers of that time might have read of a few people contesting the Governorship, perhaps not only with vigor, but with unkindly feelings. But that certainly wasn’t the case at all. Justice Kellyhad long been known to me, and I had a high esteem for him. And I must say that the course of that campaign didn’t lower my esteem one bit. This was before the days of TV, and Bill Kulsea will recall that we travelled the state a good bit more than is now popular. And in crisscrossing the state very often Justice Kelly and I would be in the same place at practically the same time. And more than once I was in the audience in some small county seat at a park, or at the fairgrounds, where Governor Kelly was making his last remarks to a large crowd, and then I had the sort of lump in throat experience of another veteran seeing the daughty old warrior trying to get off that platform with his problems that he had with his legs.But as has been seen from a nonneutral observer’s point of view, I can also attest that he never gave way to his pain, or discomfort. He always had a great smile and he even was gracious to a young whippersnapper who was trying to make his place in the world. So there wasn’t any business of Republicans or Democrats between us. It was as a distinguished biographer said, he was a politician, I was a politician; he was a statesman, I was trying to be one. And we felt a great bond. So this is an emotional moment for me as well as for the rest of you.
And now we’ve come to the point where–unless there’s someone else moved to speak. Mrs. Kelly, were you moved to speak?
MRS. ANNE KELLY: Not I.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Not I. I’m not a very good auctioneer, and I saw your shoulders move for some reason or other, and I thought you might want to raise the bidding.
It’s my pleasure now to call on Mrs. Hagopian to make the formal presentation of the portrait to this Court.
MRS. JOANNE KELLY HAGOPIAN: With the Court’s permission, I would defer to my brother Larry.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Okay.
MR. LARRY KELLY: Chief Justice Williams, Justices, family and guests. Coming this late on the program, and also this is a rather spontaneous appearance. A member of the family wanted to see if a member of the family could still just get up and say a few words as the Irish are supposed to. And there might be a small wave of fear going through the crowd, about here comes the Kelly Irish family. So I will go with one of the chief rubrics that my father had: “Keep it brief.” And his point about being an Irishman was: “Be a tough Irishman.” He had a lot of regard for people, but he said you’ve got to have a tough brain. And his definition of a tough brain is you’ve got to say it short. So with that long introduction, I will, on behalf of the family, present to the Court and to the State of Michigan, and to the people of the State of Michigan the portrait of Harry Kelly.
I hope that at least there is some random visitor who, as teh State Bar President said, will look at the portrait and the man and maybe ask someone around here, “Who was that?” And maybe he will hear the stories here.
As the clerks were influenced, as the fellow justices were influenced, you can imagine the influence of living with Harry Kelly. It was not much different, I don’t think, than being in chambers. He was tough as hell, but he was kind as hell. And it’s been nice sitting here listening to people who were his intellectual peers comment on him, people who he brought in as clerks, and for that very reason I will not start in on family stories, but will just present the portrait. Thank you.
[At which time the portrait of the Honorable Harry F. Kelly was unveiled.]
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: On behalf of the Supreme Court, and the State of Michigan, it is a real honor to accept this very fine portrait which catches so much of the spirit of the man. And it gives us the opportunity to feel that once again we are in the presence of one of Michigan’s most dynamic citizens who made a great contribution.
I would just like to say to the presenter that I don’t think there’ll be too many people who will wonder who that is. I can tell you an experience that I had after serving on the Court for a number of years, even after I had become Chief Justice. I would have friends rush up to me and vigorously shake me by the hand and say, “Governor, you’re sure looking great, what are you doing now?”
[The special session of the Michigan Supreme Court was then adjourned.}