OCTOBER 11, 1995
CHIEF JUSTICE BRICKLEY: A very warm welcome to all of you. This is one of the more pleasant assignments that we have on this Court, that we look forward to, and we certainly were looking forward to today. We are just so happy that so many of you have been able to join us.
To begin our program, I’m going to ask the president of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, Wallace Riley, to step up and deliver a message.
Mr. Chief Justice, justices of the Supreme Court, Governor Engler, Lieutenant Governor Binsfeld, Attorney General Kelley, Justice Griffin, members of the bar, and the Griffin family and friends. Once again, on behalf of the Board of Directors and all the members of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, we thank you for the opportunity to appear, to participate in this special session of the Court.
The members of this Court are familiar with the existence and the work of the society because all of you are members. But for those in the audience who are not familiar, allow me to say that the society was organized as a Michigan nonprofit corporation in 1988 for the purpose of preserving documents, records, and memorabilia relating to the Michigan Supreme Court, and also to promote public education and awareness of the historical significance of the Court.
As you know, there is a Bureau of History, which is also part of the office of the Michigan Secretary of State, and there is a Michigan Historical Commission. But somehow it seemed that there was no special focus on things historical relating to the judicial branch of government, and so the society was formed to fill that need.
Now, seven years later, we have some notable accomplishments to report to the Court, and I’d like just a moment to tick them off. First, we’ve collected a dozen oral histories from former Michigan Supreme Court justices. We’ve published an index of special sessions of the Court…special sessions much like this one today, which, as you know, are recorded in the front pages of the Michigan Reports, and which are cross-indexed by date, ceremony, honoree, speakers, and the like.
We’ve held four annual meeting luncheons around the state, in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Southfield, and Lansing, which you, the members of the Court, have graciously attended. Each luncheon meeting was accompanied by the presentation of a legal vignette about Michigan Supreme Court history by Justice THOMAS E. BRENNAN, Justice JOHN W. FITZGERALD, Dean John Wesley Reed, and then by Judge Charles W. Joiner.
But perhaps the most visual thing that the society does, is to facilitate the painting and presentation of portraits of former justices as a way of recording and preserving the history of this Court.
Please listen to what your former colleague, Judge James L. Ryan, said about portraits, and I quote, “For the preservation of the Court’s precious history in the awakened memory of those who observe it, and in order to stimulate scholarly research about the Court by those who come after us, nothing serves as well as the portrait of justices who lived and helped to make that history.”
We believe that the history of the Court, more than any other branch of government, is the history of the justices who sit on the Court. Each time a justice changes, the Court changes. So we believe that it is important not only to record who sat and what they wrote, but also to have a visual impression of the justices.
Since the society began in 1988, we have presented the portraits of Chief Justice G. MENNEN WILLIAMS, Justice TALBOT SMITH, Chief Justice THOMAS GILES KAVANAGH, Chief Justice JOHN W. FITZGERALD, Justice JAMES L. RYAN, and, now, Justice ROBERT P. GRIFFIN. Soon to follow will be the portraits of Justices DENNIS W. ARCHER and EUGENE F. BLACK.
You should know, also, that we not only facilitated the painting and presentation of the eight portraits that I have just mentioned, but we also have a program of portrait and photo restorations, on which we shall report to you at a future special session.
Let me end this report by acknowledging publicly that none of the work of the society relating to the historical happenings in Michigan and the Michigan Supreme Court would have been possible without the inspiration of then Chief Justice DOROTHY COMSTOCK RILEY to form the society in 1988 and, of course, would not have been possible without the continuing support of the members of this Court ever since.
One of the members, former Justice ROBERT P. GRIFFIN, is center stage today; and we’re delighted to be a part of this very special historical happening in Michigan Supreme Court history.
And, you know, this really is a very special session because on the program today are several of our members who are going to participate in the presentation, and I have the honor to present one of them to you now, a member of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, graduate of Thomas Cooley Law School, member of the State Bar of Michigan, Governor John Engler.
GOVERNOR JOHN ENGLER: Thank you very much, Mr. Riley. Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Court, Lieutenant Governor Binsfeld, Attorney General Kelley, distinguished former senator and former justice, Bob Griffin, the entire Griffin family, and ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be here today and to have an opportunity to participate in what I think is a very special and very unique ceremony.
You just heard of the history of the hanging of the portraits and the role that they play in keeping for the future generations the legacy of the past, and I’ve tried to do a little research because I’ve known Bob Griffin for a long time.
I first met Bob Griffin early in my political career, when he was kind enough to help a young candidate for the Legislature. As I recall, it was on the dirt roads in the Village of Shepard, where we were actually out knocking on some doors. In those days, even United States senators did that, and we had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together over many years. And going back, I thought it was unique to serve both on this Court and as a member of the United States Senate. Justice Griffin did that, after a long and distinguished career in the House of Representatives. His Washington tenure is well known. A confidant of presidents, particularly of President Ford, he was a major supporter and friend, and part of the Republican leadership in the Congress at the time.
I reviewed some of the tributes paid to President Ford and checked on some of the observations about Senator Griffin and the role he played. There was such a good relationship, but much of it was in the nature of gibing back and forth, Senator, and I didn’t think that would be appropriate for the Justice GRIFFIN ceremony today. But there were some pretty wonderful exchanges, and the evidence of the friendship between Justice GRIFFIN and President Ford is well established. The record is very clear on that point.
What I thought was unique, though, was the fact that, after serving in the United States Senate, he returned to Michigan, to be with the people who had elected and supported him for so many years, and then chose to continue in public service in a different branch of government by running for the office of justice of the Supreme Court.
In going back over our Court’s history, back to the territorial governments of Michigan in 1805, I found that WILLIAM WOODBRIDGE had served on the Territorial Supreme Court in the early 1800s, 1828-1832, and later went on to serve in the United States Senate. I wondered who else had done that and found two other names. Justice FELCH had the unique distinction of serving not only as a member of this Court but also as governor and then as a United States senator, so he touched all the bases. And, then there was ISAAC CHRISTIANCY in the late 1800s, although, as is often the case with legislative history, I went to the Michigan Manual to check the record and found a conflict on the dates. It would appear, though, that he served, certainly, first on this Court and then went to the Senate. I’ll have to tell our legislative compilers that there is a mistake.
But in the twentieth century only one person has served both as a member of the United States Senate and as a justice of this Court. That person is the man we honor today. He is actually the only man that I find in Michigan history who served first in the United States Senate and then came to this Court as a justice, so he did it in the reverse order of those who had preceded him.
This was a remarkable accomplishment, but only one of many remarkable accomplishments in the life of Bob Griffin. I came here today to join his many friends and his family in celebrating his accomplishments that will be memorialized by this portrait to be hung today, and to say to Bob Griffin on behalf of the people of Michigan: Thank you for your outstanding service over many years, for many jobs well done. A grateful people say, “Thank you, Bob.”
And, now it is my distinct privilege to introduce Attorney General Frank Kelley.
There are different ways to get to know a person. One of the most unusual and very effective ways is to run as his opponent for public office. I had the honor of doing that twenty-three years ago, when I ran against our honored guest, who was seeking reelection to the United States Senate. It was a very hard-fought campaign, to be sure, but compared to modern campaigns, it was like a series of exchanges between gentlemen. I will never forget the experience, since it was the only election I’ve ever lost. Justice GRIFFIN was not only a gentleman in his relations with me during that campaign, but then he has always been a gentleman in every contact that we have ever had.
He has had a most distinguished public career, so I consider it a privilege to be here today to join in paying tribute to Justice GRIFFIN for just one area of his outstanding public service as an attorney, a member of the United States Congress, a United States senator, and a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. So, Justice GRIFFIN, I wish all of the best to you and your family on this occasion, and I thank you for teaching me about the virtue of humility in 1972.
CHIEF JUSTICE BRICKLEY: The next person we are going to hear from is a very distinguished gentleman who started out, as did a lot of great jurists, in the political vineyards. His work has crossed a great period of interesting history in this state. We are delighted to have you here, United States District Judge John Feikens.
The Scriptures exhort us that from time to time we should come together to praise famous men. This is such an occasion. Deep appreciation for the arrangement of this event must be acknowledged to the Court and the officers and directors of the Historical Society of the Michigan Supreme Court.
I want to relate to the Court and members of the society, some history about Justice ROBERT GRIFFIN, which clearly describes the kind of person he is. But may I also say that what is sublime about a participation in events such as this is that it gives one the opportunity to say things to him in the presence of his family and friends while he is alive and well and can savor them.
I first met Bob Griffin in that wonderful decade, the 50s. Think for a moment what was happening. Ike was in the White House. In the middle of that decade, Bob Griffin, a young lawyer, and his friend, Bill Milliken, were concerned about the Republican Party’s need to find a candidate to run for Congress in the Ninth Congressional District.
At the same time, Congressman Gerald Ford was enjoying his fourth term as a Republican representative from the Fifth Congressional District. George Romney was busily engaged in thinking how a constitutional convention could be called in the near future to reform and reshape Michigan’s Constitution. These persons, Milliken, Ford, and Romney, feature in my tribute to Bob Griffin.
As I said, we met in that decade. I was then chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, and I remember this young Republican coming in to see me, to say that he intended to become active in the Republican Party in his congressional district. With Bill Milliken’s assistance, Bob Griffin entered the Republican primary; he was victorious in that primary, and later was elected as the Michigan Congressman from the Ninth District. The year was 1956.
The Eisenhower landslide victory of 1956 helped to elect a group of young Republican Congressmen who soon dubbed themselves “The Young Turks.” They began looking around for fields to conquer.
A likely target was Congressman Charles Halleck of Indiana, who then was minority leader in the House. At that time, Senator Everett Dirkson was the Senate minority leader, and Dirkson and Halleck had gained some publicity by being on a weekly radio show called the “Ev and Charlie Show.” The “Young Turks,” with Bob Griffin at their head, ran Gerald Ford against Charles Halleck and, in this way, Ford, who won the contest, began moving up the political ladder. By the way, the radio show then became the “Ev and Jerry Show.” At this point, Michigan had two strong young Congressmen in the leadership, Bob Griffin and Jerry Ford. Against this background, I continue my story.
Today we praise and honor Bob Griffin by hanging his portrait in the Michigan Supreme Court. My story will inform you that on two occasions, of which little is known, it became probable that his portrait, instead of being unveiled here today, would be hung either in the White House or in the Supreme Court of the United States.
I will tell you how close Bob Griffin came to being the vice presidential candidate on the Nixon ticket in 1968. You will recall that George Romney made his bid for the presidency in 1968. Bob Griffin, through an appointment received from Governor Romney, was then a United States senator.
As the Republican convention to be held in Miami in 1968 approached, it appeared that Richard Nixon was going to get the nomination, but he did not have it locked up. Nelson Rockefeller led the New York delegation; Romney led the Michigan delegation, and was its favorite son candidate. And other hopefuls, William Scranton of Pennsylvania and Ronald Reagan of California, also had some lingering hopes.
Just prior to the Republican National Convention in 1968, I attended a meeting of the American Bar Association in Philadelphia. As that meeting drew to a close, completely gratuitously, I ran into a close friend of mine from the Eisenhower days, former Attorney General Herbert Brownell, who had been one of the important architects in the victory of Eisenhower over Taft at the Republican National Convention in 1952. I had the good fortune to be involved in some of that activity.
When I met Herb Brownell at the ABA meeting, I asked, “What are you doing here, shouldn’t you be in Miami?” He said, “As a matter of fact, that’s where I’m going, why don’t you come along?” And so I did. I went with Brownell to Miami, and I learned that he was then assisting Nixon in the selection of a vice presidential nominee, and he confided to me that Bob Griffin’s name was on the short list that Nixon had put together. This was exciting news.
Upon arriving in Miami, I went to the Michigan delegation’s hotel headquarters, and one of the first people I met was Bob Griffin. Out of the blue he asked me, “Do you know where I can find Herb Brownell?” I was not only able to tell him that, but I also gave him Brownell’s room and telephone number at another hotel.
Now, as matters stood before the convention opened, Nixon needed to get votes from the southern states, and these delegations were largely, as a bloc, led by South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond. It was made clear to Nixon that the price of southern support was southern approval of the candidate to be chosen for vice president.
Bob Griffin, meanwhile, had become very interesting to the southern bloc because he had publicly stated his opposition to President Johnson’s nomination of Abe Fortas to be Chief Justice. The southern bloc was interested in knowing from Bob Griffin whether he could deliver the Michigan delegation for Nixon. But Bob would not forget that Romney had appointed him to the Senate and that Romney was Michigan’s candidate. Moreover, Romney had asked, and Griffin had agreed, to make the convention speech that would place in nomination Romney’s name for President. So, Bob Griffin declined what appeared then to be a very tantalizing offer on behalf of the southern bloc.
Here was a demonstration of Bob Griffin’s shining integrity. He did not make an end run around Romney. Well, as matters finally worked themselves out, the southern bloc agreed to support Spiro Agnew for the vice presidential nomination, and Bob Griffin was bypassed by Nixon.
Just think how history would have been changed. Agnew, as we all know, went down in flames. None of that sorry matter would have taken place had Bob Griffin been the nominee. Even later, one can predict that when President Nixon fell into evil days, Bob Griffin would have survived. That is why I say this portrait could now be hanging in the White House.
Now, to the story as to how this portrait could be hanging in the Supreme Court of the United States. When Bob Griffin’s friend, Jerry Ford, who owed much of his prominence in the Congress and in the Republican Party to Griffin, became President, a vacancy occurred on the Court. Again, Griffin’s integrity became an important factor in the selection of a nominee.
Recall that Bob Griffin had publicly criticized the cronyism that existed between Lyndon Johnson and Abe Fortas. Although it blunted his candidacy for the Court, Griffin counseled Ford that his appointment to that Court should not be that of a close personal friend, (“cronyism” was the buzzword) and that Ford should select someone whom the Democrats would not oppose.
Even though that was his counsel to President Ford, I disagreed with it at the time. I remember that just before Ford nominated John Paul Stevens, Bob Griffin came to my office in the Penobscot Building in Detroit, and we discussed the situation. I had hoped, to the end, that Ford would appoint him; and as Bob Griffin sat in my office, I called Phil Buchen, my law school classmate. Buchen was Ford’s counsel, and I made my views known to him, but to no avail.
Let me say confidently that if Ford had won the election and defeated Carter in 1976, Bob Griffin would no doubt have gotten the next Court appointment. And this is my basis for saying that his portrait could also be hanging in the Supreme Court of the United States.
At my stage in life, I see more clearly what the essential characteristics are in the special people with whom we live and work. These vignettes show, forcefully, the kind of person Bob Griffin is. In both instances he did not flinch. He refused to put his self interest above what he believed his friendship and commitment to his friends meant.
Bob Griffin is such a special person. And so, when I look at his portrait, I will think of his essential characteristic —integrity.
CHIEF JUSTICE BRICKLEY: Thank you very much, your Honor. It has been said that behind every successful Supreme Court justice is a bunch of law clerks. The fact of the matter is that our law clerks are, especially in this day and age of high volume appeals, very important, and Bob was the first to suggest that he wanted on this program someone who would represent all the law clerks that have worked with him and have been privileged to work with him over the eight years he was on this Court. And now, I’m going to ask Janet Welch, if she will come forward, who was one of the earliest law clerks that Justice GRIFFIN was fortunate to have.
One of the standard openings for remarks of this sort is to say that it is a rare honor to be invited to speak about the day’s honoree on this special occasion. In many cases, as is the case with the other speakers on this program, that beginning is essentially false since both the speaker and spoken about belong to that small circle of illustrious people who regularly are called upon to say nice things about one another.
In my case, however, it really is a rare honor to speak under these conditions and to speak, in particular, on behalf of those who have served as clerks for Justice GRIFFIN. Those of you who clerked for Justice GRIFFIN, and those of you who are otherwise familiar with his work habits, will be amazed to hear that he has no idea what I’m going to say.
Ours was a relationship that was focused intently on the business of cases, with only the briefest excursions into small talk, so I had no opportunity during my clerkship and none subsequently, until today, to tell him what I think of him.
For a famously careful and meticulous man, he has taken an uncharacteristic risk in asking me to speak. A week or so before interviewing for my clerkship, I got a call from a Lansing acquaintance who had heard about my impending interview, and just wanted me to know that he had heard, on good authority, that Justice GRIFFIN is quite a demanding person to work for.
Now, I was just about to graduate from law school, having commuted 160 miles a day for three years, and having had a complicated pregnancy and a premature baby in that duration, and I asked myself, “How demanding can he be?”
I did not find out from the interview. At the interview I met, not a fearsome former senator, but a congenial, courtly soft-spoken man, with whom, apart from all the distinguished things that he had done with his life and I had not, I had a surprisingly lot in common. In fact, I have a faint recollection of our having both worked as truck loaders some point early in our lives; that may be a false memory.
Well, I was offered the job, and I took the job, and I found out how demanding Justice GRIFFIN can be, and the answer is: pretty darn demanding.
There is a persistent myth, perpetuated by law clerks, that the clerks themselves do most of the real work. That while the clerks are working long hours and carting home wheelbarrows full of books, the judge is leading a relatively cushy life. I don’t know that there is any factual basis for the myth anywhere in the real world, but I know, for a fact, that it does not describe a clerkship with Justice GRIFFIN. Whatever demands he made of his clerks, and they were considerable, he made for himself in triplicate. I’ll share an example.
My friends know that I tend to do my best work and writing in the middle of the night and that, because I have to work regular hours as well, I prefer to catch up on sleep by sleeping late on Saturday mornings. So it’s not surprising that over the last decade I’ve been awakened on a Saturday morning by a phone call no more than five times: three wrong numbers and two calls from Justice GRIFFIN.
The typical conversation began something like, “Janet, I’ve been thinking about the second sentence of the last paragraph of page 11.” There was almost a Zen-like quality to the experience of participating in the creation of a GRIFFIN opinion. During the crafting of the opinion, he managed to be simultaneously, and somewhat impossibly, a master of both serenity and anxiety, and I’m hoping that the portrait will capture some of this—quietly unflappable and disquietingly nervous at the same moment.
I offer for posterity two characteristics as distinctive of the creation of a GRIFFIN opinion. The first is an attention to detail that is admirable, sometimes even exquisite, in the outcome, but excruciating in the making. The second is a willingness to ask at every point throughout the process of authoring an opinion, “Is this a sound conclusion? Is this the right result? Is this just?”
In the creation of a GRIFFIN opinion, no sentence, no paragraph, no line of reasoning, no matter how long and agonizing it had been in the crafting, and no matter, I suspect, that his colleagues may have been perfectly satisfied with the thing just as it stood, was safe against revision or even outright elimination right up until the moment the opinion was signed.
Add to these two signature characteristics an insistence on thoroughness, a passion for clarity, and a passion for concision, and you have the formula for a GRIFFIN opinion.
The passion for concision requires some explanation, not only because it occasionally was confounded by his insistence on thoroughness, but because of the ironic way in which it manifested itself. The GRIFFIN method for achieving a concise result is to discover how many different ways of saying something his clerks can come up with and then to say it himself in a simpler, clearer way.
In fact his method of writing an opinion reminds me of the explanation I once heard a master guitar maker give for how he makes his world-renowned guitars. “It’s really pretty simple,” he said, “I get a real good block of wood and then I cut away everything that isn’t a guitar.” As his law clerks, it was our job to bring him a real good block of law, and then he would go about the business of cutting away everything that wasn’t a GRIFFIN opinion. Being a part of that process was a privilege for which I will always be grateful.
When I began my clerkship, I was closing in on my fortieth birthday, and my character, for better or for worse, had already been formed. Unlike many law clerks, I was not in search of a role model or a mentor, although Justice GRIFFIN would have suited admirably. Nor was I looking for a clerkship to enhance my marketability in the legal world. Instead, I was looking for an intellectual challenge and an opportunity to be connected to the history of this remarkable Court, and I got exactly what I was looking for.
And I got something else that I wasn’t looking for, a deep appreciation of a gentleman who has lived his public life with relentless adherence to the highest standards of performance and integrity. That is what I see and what I will remember when I encounter the GRIFFIN portrait in the halls of this Court, and I’m glad that it’s hanging in this Court.
Thank you, Justice GRIFFIN.
CHIEF JUSTICE BRICKLEY: Thank you, very much, Janet, and now we’re getting down to the heart of things here, and I’m going to introduce Judge of the Court of Appeals, Richard Griffin, who happens to be related to our guest of honor.
May it please the Court, Mr. Chief Justice, associate justices, Governor Engler, Lieutenant Governor Binsfeld, Attorney General Kelley, and distinguished guests.
On behalf of all the members of the Griffin family, I would like to thank the Supreme Court and the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society and its president, Wallace Riley, for making this wonderful event possible.
I want to begin my remarks by recognizing the woman responsible for most of my father’s accomplishments, his bride of almost fifty years and my mother, Marge Griffin.
Mom has always been there for my dad and for us kids. As my dad was working long hours in the Congress and campaigning long weeks in Michigan, my mom was always there. She is his inspiration, and she is truly ours. She is, by far, the best campaigner in the Griffin family. Her grace, her charm, and her simple name recall I think have won over more voters than anyone else.
I remember growing up, my mom saying before every upcoming campaign, “You know, this will be your dad’s final election.” So, after five elections in the House, three campaigns for the U.S. Senate, campaigns for the Supreme Court, we knew that it was not. That is, until 1986, by virtue of the state constitution, we knew that my father’s successful campaign for the Supreme Court would be his final campaign.
And, while I’m talking about my mother, I can’t resist telling you a true story about my campaign. When I was running for the Court of Appeals, one of the hardest things about running was simply getting on the ballot. When you’re from a small county like Grand Traverse, getting 3500 valid signatures to place your name on the ballot is a tough task.
A friend of mine, Jerome Clement, was going door to door one day on the Old Mission Peninsula getting petition signatures for me, when he went up to the home of an elderly woman. He knocked on the door and Jerome introduced himself. He said, “Ma’am, I’m gathering nominating signatures for Richard Griffin, who is a young attorney in town running for the Court of Appeals. I know Rick, and I think he will be a good judge, could I get you to sign his nominating petition?”
This elderly woman shook her head, and she said, “Nope, don’t know the man.” Jerome came back and said, “Well, you may not know Rick, but I bet you know his father, Bob Griffin, Michigan Supreme Court justice, former United States senator, former U.S. Congressman?” The woman shook her head again; she said, “You know, I never cared for that Bob Griffin.”
Jerome, not to be outdone, quickly came back again and said, “Ma’am, would you please sign it anyway because Rick—well, Rick, he takes after his mother.” And, she signed it. True story.
The Griffins are well represented here today. Present is my wife and my soul mate of twenty-four years, Chris. Also, we have our three children here, Sarah, Kelley, and Karaline. My older brother, Paul, who is an attorney in California, is here and will be speaking next. My younger brother, Jim, and his wife, Kelley, and their four children, Jason, Andrew, Eric, and Abby, are here. Also, my dad’s two brothers and their wives are here, Jerry and Vee Griffin and Gene and Naomi Griffin, his sister, Jan Foster, and his cousin, Joyce Sheets, along with her husband, Hal.
Also today, we have a lot of judges here. I saw Justice FITZGERALD, Judge GILLIS from the Court of Appeals, Judge CLIFFORD TAYLOR, Judge TOM FITZGERALD, and probably many others I have missed: Also, State Senator Walter North and Senator George McManus are here and many others. In addition, we have received many letters including one from former Chief Justice MARY COLEMAN, along with a letter from United States Senator Spencer Abraham.
Spence and I go back a long way. We worked on campaigns starting with my dad’s 1972 campaign. We were the youth coordinators for the Senate campaign. I just want to read a brief portion of Spence’s letter to dad. Senator Abraham says, “One of the proudest days of my life came when I was sworn into office. What made that day so very special to me was your leading me down the center aisle of the United States Senate. You have been a role model, mentor, and friend. The guidance which I have gained from you is immeasurable. I’m thankful for your leadership, ideals, and principles you hold so dear. You are the epitome of what a public servant should be. I can’t think of anyone more deserving.”
Finally, I want to remark that many of us here today think that this event is the closure of my dad’s public-service career, and I’m pleased to tell everyone in this room, that that is not true. Just this month my dad assumed a new public-service duty, a new role that he has never held before. By virtue of an assignment by the Michigan Supreme Court, Justice GRIFFIN, this month, is serving as a visiting judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals. Along with retired judges John GILLIS and Bob BURNS, Justice GRIFFIN will be deciding 185 guilty plea appeals. Most of these, Governor, were filed prior to the passage of Proposal B.
I can tell you that Justice GRIFFIN is bringing his integrity, his diligence, and his hard work to my Court, the Court of Appeals. And I’m so glad to see that John GILLIS is here because Judge GILLIS called me just last week. We had a couple of cases together that we talked about, and after we were done talking about our cases, Judge GILLIS, in a complaining tone said, “I’m sitting on the guilty plea docket this month with your dad, Justice GRIFFIN. You know what? I’m getting memo after darn memo from your dad. In most cases the memos are longer than the proposed opinions.” Finally, he said, “Your dad is really, and I mean really, taking this guilty-plea call seriously.” Well, we who know dad are not surprised, and we would expect nothing less from him.
In conclusion, dad, I just want to say on behalf of the entire family how very proud we are of you and keep up the good work.
CHIEF JUSTICE BRICKLEY: We now will hear from the eldest son of Bob and Marge Griffin. Although he is intensively engaged in some litigation, he flew in last night from San Francisco to be with us today. We’re delighted that you could be here, Paul.
May it please the Court. Mr. Chief Justice, associate justices, Governor Engler, Attorney General Kelley, distinguished guests.
I am the oldest son, and I’m very glad to be here. I thought I would be involved in a lengthy trial that was scheduled to begin this week in Orange County, California. As luck would have it, the trial has been continued for several weeks. Frankly, I was arranging to make the trip in any event because I couldn’t possibly have missed this occasion. I was here eight years ago when dad was sworn in as an associate justice of this Court. The years since then seem to have flown by very rapidly.
Before proceeding to the formal presentation of the portrait, several thoughts come to mind. Listening to Judge Feikens recall events in 1955 and 1956, which culminated in my father’s successful campaign for the Ninth District Congressional seat, I am reminded that I was only five years old at the time. I was six, and in the first grade, when we first went to Washington as a family. During a number of the years that followed, my siblings and I attended school in Traverse City part of the year and in suburban Washington for the remainder of the school year. Perhaps it’s not surprising that those years flew by too.
By the time 1978 rolled around, I had graduated from law school and was working as an attorney in the Federal Trade Commission. That year, I launched a new phase of my life by moving to San Francisco and joining the law firm with which I am still associated. It doesn’t seem possible to my folks or to me that I have lived in San Francisco for seventeen years.
Looking back upon the history associated with my father, a part of which has been recounted so eloquently here today, I can say as a participant and as a spokesman for the family that we are mighty proud of dad and that history.
Incidentally, I can identify with Janet Welch and some of her comments about my father. I was probably the only kid in the first grade who had to write a brief to get an increase in my allowance.
In particular, I remember three primary points emphasized by my father that have stuck with me through my life: get organized, be prepared, and work hard. We found that when we went to him as youngsters with a plea, whether it was to take the car on Friday night or something else, if we were organized and prepared with argument that was rational and logical, we would sometimes win.
I must say that following in the prominent footsteps of our father has not been easy for his children. But it has been a terrific challenge and an experience that none of us would trade for anything in the world.
Now, it is a pleasure to introduce Mr. Joseph Maniscalco, the artist who painted the portrait about to be presented. I would ask that he and his wife, Barbara, stand and be recognized.
They live in Orchard Lake, Michigan. As the members of this Court know, Mr. Maniscalco is a renowned artist who has painted several of the portraits that now hang in this room. I refer to the portrait of Judge JAMES RYAN and the portrait of Chief Justice Mary Coleman.
Finally, Mr. Chief Justice, it is my great privilege at this time, on behalf of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society and the Griffin family, to present to the Court this portrait of Justice ROBERT P. GRIFFIN.
CHIEF JUSTICE BRICKLEY: Thank you, very much, Paul.