APRIL 3, 1889
May it please the Court:
A commendable custom has grown up in this State whereby members of its Bar, by voluntary contributions, have provided portraits of many of the Judges of this Court, which by its permission have found place in this room, dedicated to the use of the highest Court in the State, and one of the most respected in the country.
We see here the elegant MORELL, one of the first Judges of this State; the strong face of RANSOM, Governor and Judge; and, nearer to our own time, GRAVES and CHRISTIANCY, the courteous CAMPBELL, and COOLEY, whose fame as an author and judge is not confined to his own State and country, but has extended across the sea to the fountain-head of American jurisprudence,—the courts of English law.
And across the sea, in the land of great lawyers, of O’Connell and Curran, of Thomas A. Emmett and Sir Charles Russell, there was born a man whom the Bar desires to honor to-day by placing his portrait among those of his predecessors and associates on the Bench of this Court.
ISAAC MARSTON was a native of the historical county of Armagh, Ireland, and at the age of seventeen he came to America. A citizen by adoption, he highly appreciated the dignity and duties of American citizenship, and every public enterprise by which his city, county, or State was likely to be benefited received his hearty support. Nor did he forget his native land, for he knew the disadvantages under which Ireland was place by alien rule. Every movement calculated to aid his native country received his generous support, not only because he loved Ireland, but because he loved America, and wished to aid his native land to secure a portion, at least, of the freedom we enjoy.
Having filled satisfactorily many local positions with a reputation as an able lawyer not confined to his locality, he was appointed Attorney General of Michigan by Gov. Bagley, and creditably filled that office from April to December, 1874.
In 1875 he was elected Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by a very handsome majority, to serve the unexpired term of Judge CHRISTIANCY, and during the year 1881, pursuant to the statute, he was Chief Justice. Thus the pupil of Professors Cooley and Campbell in 1861 at the law school of Michigan University became their associate on the Bench of our Supreme Court in 1875, a notable example of what a man of industry and integrity may accomplish by the aid of American institutions.
In 1883 he resigned his position on the Bench, and entered again on the practice of his profession at Detroit, where he still remains. The active work of the practitioner was doubtless more agreeable to him than judicial duties.
The Bar honors him for his pluck and industry in making his way to the front rank of his profession by his own efforts, for being an honorable and able lawyer, an upright and fearless judge.
As a resident of Bay City, which honored him, and which he honored, and in behalf of the Bar of the State, I present to the Court this portrait, and ask that it be accepted and placed upon the wall of this court-room, and that the Court make such further order as shall be deemed appropriate, that it may be an enduring testimonial to the well-earned fame of ISAAC MARSTON.
I concur in all that Mr. Weadock has said of him, and will further say he has attained a degree of eminence at the Bar and upon the Bench which few men in this country of his age have reached. With good natural ability, he has risen by his own perseverance and efforts to the high position he now occupies; and his life, character, and habits are well worthy of study by all the young men of our State seeking an honorable place in the profession.
His professional career has been both successful and brilliant, and his judicial work, during the time he was upon the Bench in this Court, such as to command the respect of the entire Bar of the State.
Thanking his friends for this token of appreciation of the virtues and merits of Judge MARSTON, the request of Mr. Weadock will be granted.
JUSTICE CAMPBELL’ S REMARKS:
My acquaintance with Judge MARSTON goes back to a period in the early part of his life. I was a professor in the law department of the University when he came there as a student, and I have known him ever since, and watched his career with a great deal of interest and respect.
Judge MARSTON, in his early life, had no more advantageous surroundings than most young men. He came to Ann Arbor what might practically be called a poor boy. He had no means, and was obliged to live with great frugality. I was in the habit of seeing him constantly, and was very much struck at that time, not only with his diligence and habits, but also with his great intelligence and studiousness.
Just prior to his graduation, an agreement had been made and almost perfected for a partnership which had every prospect of securing a very large business for Judge MARSTON, but was given up just as he graduated, and he was obliged to start for himself in a somewhat remote region, without means and without any professional office training. But he had energy, and he went to work diligently to build up a practice, and acquired a very large one in the course of a remarkably short period of time. His reputation increased, and his practice extended so that he soon felt that he could do better in a larger place, and he removed to Bay City, where he rapidly obtained a large, remunerative, and excellent business.
He was made Attorney General at a somewhat early period in his professional career, and soon after was elected a member of the Supreme Court. As a member of this Bench, I always found him a careful and energetic associate, laboring diligently to do his share of the work.
There is some difficulty in talking about a man who is yet living, but Judge MARSTON’S associations have been of such a character as certainly to make his career a very prominent one. The only thing to be regretted is the state of his health, which for the past year has not been as good as it previously had been. This, I hope, is only a temporary difficulty.
It certainly is a great pleasure to me to have his picture before us. It will be placed upon the walls of the courtroom where it will be seen for many years to come.