OCTOBER 19, 1983
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: The members of the Supreme Court are happy indeed to welcome all of you here to this very pleasant occasion. The Court of course is in special session; it’s informal. If you want to take pictures, not of the Court, but of anybody else, you’re certainly in order to do that, or to applaud or cheer.
The purpose of this occasion is to recognize and honor three of our forebears, Justices STARR, ADAMS, and O’HARA. This Court is indeed proud of its wonderful heritage. The strength of that invigorates us every day, and permits us to do a better job. As a consequence, this is a particularly significant day for us.
I would, at the proper moment, introduce all of the judges and justices that are here, but as yet nobody has given me a list of them. And my eyes are not as good as they should be. So if somebody will get me that list that will be done before we get through. In the meantime, is Joel Boyden here? Joel, we would like you to come forward and make the opening remarks here as we move to making our first picture presentation.
This is certainly an exciting time for all of us. It’s a privilege indeed to be here, to be a part of the tradition of honoring the past members of this Court.
We at the State Bar, the organization made up of the 22,000 lawyers now practicing in this state, are particularly proud to be a part of this ongoing tradition. It is thought by us that those of you who serve on the Supreme Court, and those who have served before you with distinction and elegance and grace, certainly in the case of the three honorees here, do more to indicate the truth of the motto of the State Bar, which is in the words of the very first President, Roberts P. Hudson, who said, “No organization of lawyers can long survive which has not for its primary object the protection of the public”. The extension of those words, and that dedication of those members of our bar who have gone on to serve as justices of this Court can be no better epitomized than in the three men who are being honored today.
As a point of personal privilege, I refer to Judge Starr. It happened that my very first employment out of law school was as the result of the generosity and charity of Judge Noel T. Fox, who is part of this audience today. Judge Fox was put on the bench as a result of the taking of senior status by Judge Starr, who was then serving as a federal judge in the Western District of Michigan. No one before, or since, has more epitomized, in my mind, the very image of the judiciary than Judge Starr, with his leonine good looks, his receding but very white hair, and a voice whose very presence commanded the attention of all within half a mile. His demeanor was impressive.
I would simply leave with you, and with all of the Court, the thought that in honoring these men today, we are honoring the tradition of service and dedication to service. On behalf of the State Bar, thank you for allowing us to be a part.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you very much. May I introduce a distinguished judge from the same corner of the state to pay tribute to Justice STARR, Judge Stuart Hoffius.
JUDGE HOFFIUS: Thank you, Mister Chief Justice, and Justices of the Supreme Court, and honored guests. It’s a real privilege and a real honor to appear here before this Court on the occasion of the presentation of Justice STARR’s portrait. Since he was on this bench for five years, and on the federal bench for fifteen years, we’re used to calling him judge instead of justice.
But Judge Starr and my late father were contemporaries in the practice of law in Grand Rapids, both outstanding judges. John G. Starr, son of Judge Starr, and I were classmates in high school, and practiced in the same building for many years.
Judge Starr was born and raised near Harbor Springs. Today, that would be considered an ideal place to practice law, vacation, resort, sail, or retire. But not in those days. So after graduation from Harbor Springs High School he attended Ferris Institute, now Ferris State College, and graduated in 1907. He then attended the University of Michigan Law School, where he graduated in 1910. Upon his graduation he went to Grand Rapids to practice, and after a few years formed the legal firm of Wicks, Fuller and Starr. While engaged in practice in Grand Rapids, he was the founder of our Legal Aid Bureau. He started it himself, and would go down at night and help the poor people of Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids is one of the pioneers, because of his fine work, of the Legal Aid Bureau.
In 1936 he was elected Attorney General of this state. He served for two years, and that was during the Depression years when the politics of the time dictated that we had a new Attorney General every two years. In May of 1941, he was appointed Justice of the Supreme Court by Governor Murray D. Van Wagoner to succeed Justice Thomas F. McAllister, who had been appointed to the Court of Appeals. He was subsequently elected as justice in November of 1942, and elected in 1945. On June 2, 1946 he was appointed United States District Judge for the Western District of Michigan by President Truman and served with distinction for 15 years, until his retirement in August of 1961. He was succeeded on this bench by the late Justice JOHN R. DETHMERS. He died November 2, 1968.
Judge Starr was a great legal scholar, and wrote excellent opinions. His jury instructions were models of brevity and clarity and were used by judges throughout the state. He was always patient, kind, and considerate with all attorneys, and treated them with the greatest courtesy and respect.
In 1912 he married the late Minnie Johnson. They had two children: John G. Starr, a former Staff Judge Advocate for the Air Force, and later President of the State Bar of Michigan; his daughter, Barbara Schreckengust, is married to an attorney in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who is an active practitioner.
Judge Starr had an outstanding career in the judiciary of the state. He had the unique record as a federal district judge of being affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals in all appeals until his first reversal after serving 14 years on the bench. I’m sure none of us in this room can have such a record.
Judge Starr used to tell the story about a man who came in to say his son was going to be a lawyer, and hoped that he would be a judge. Judge Starr asked why, and the man said, well he’s lazy, hates to work, but he’s an awful good talker.
Barbara Schreckengust was not able to be with us. She came to Grand Rapids to come to this occasion, but was unable to come because of an illness in the family which caused her to return to her home in Harrisburg last night. But I would like to present to the Court and the other guests here, Mrs. John G. Starr, daughter-in-law of the late Justice STARR, and the loving, devoted, and competent wife of John Starr.
Also here is Miss Jeanette Trachsel, who is a resident of Lansing, but was for 25 years secretary to Justice Starr and Judge Starr. Miss Trachsel? Thank you very much.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you very much, Judge Hoffius. We also have with us Roger Law, the President of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, to make a presentation.
MR. LAW: May it please the Court. In Grand Rapids Raymond Starr is a folk hero, probably more for his work on the federal bench than for his work on this Court. One of the legends about him concerns his trial of patent infringement cases. His experience as Attorney General and on this Court had not trained him for such cases, and he delayed facing them. After several had accumulated for trial he had to do something. His solution was a 30-day vacation, during which he read every patent case decided by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and by the United States Supreme Court. And with that background, he set the cases for trial back to back. In none of them was his decision reversed.
The Grand Rapids Bar Association has been the owner of this portrait of Justice STARR by Roy Gamble. We are very happy to have had the opportunity to give it to you. Thank you.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you very much. A late starter is the Chief Justice, who rises in rebuttal. Because my very first job in Michigan was as an Assistant Attorney General under Raymond Starr, I had the opportunity to learn a great deal of law, and I also learned a little about politics. I will tell a story which I hope his wife in heaven will pardon me for, because I could never tell it in her presence. But Raymond Starr with one of his hearty northern Michigan chuckles said to me one day, “Mennen, when you go campaigning, remember there’s more votes in a bar than in a church”. I don’t know whether that is to what I owe my success in six terms as Governor or not. But in any event, I owe a great debt to Raymond Starr.
I think that the relationship I had with him that was almost as significant was when I appointed him to the Ferris Institute Board of Trustees. I’m sorry to see Phil Pratt here, because that appointment was probably illegal, in that it violated the separation of the state and federal government, because he was serving both master at that time. But Ray Starr told me many times how he, as a raw lad from the farm up in northern Michigan, had come to Ferris. I’m not sure he had even finished high school. And they trained him up so that he could go on to the University of Michigan Law School. And I think that if it had been a choice, he might have resigned from the district bench of the federal court rather than give up Ferris Institute, because his heart was really in it. And so I trust that I may rest with those few remarks, and now call upon Wayne Clinton [Court officer] to show us the portrait.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: The next portrait to be presented is of Justice CLARK ADAMS, and his dear widow Adeline was kind enough to invite me to make some opening remarks.
My relationship with Clark Adams goes back to the time when I first became Governor. I was looking around as one new to the Lansing scene for someone who could guide me through the intricacies of relationship with the Legislature, as I had never had that kind of experience. And also someone to give me such legal advice as I would need. There was not a shadow of a doubt that the best and perhaps only man who could uniquely fill the bill was a former senator by the name of Clark Adams. And I must say that when I had the opportunity of becoming acquainted with him I dearly thanked each and every person who had recommended him for that position.
Clark Adams gave me the very best advice that anyone could have, and established for me a proper relationship with the Legislature. Now that may seem like a small thing to those of you who have not been Governor and not had to deal with the Legislature. But that, I can assure you, is a tremendous problem. A problem which for me was greater than most because I was an upstart Democrat who had come on the Lansing scene where Republicanism had reigned for long, and still reigned in the Legislature. As a consequence, when I had someone who could establish a relationship with this supposedly hostile group, he was a pearl of great price. Clark did that exceptionally well, because every member of that Legislature trusted the integrity of Clark Adams absolutely. And as a consequence, we were off to a swimming start.
Clark did such a wonderful job for me that when I had the opportunity to show my warm regard for him by appointing him to the Supreme Court, I was happy indeed, because I knew I would honor the Court as well as honor Clark Adams. He served exceptionally well, but his political aptitudes at that time were not great enough for him to win re-election. And as a consequence, I had another opportunity to find out how highly Clark Adams was regarded. Oakland County was a growing and rich county, and they felt that they should have another circuit judge. They made that known to the Legislature, and the legislators decided that they would have another circuit judge. Now between me and the Legislature we’d had a friendly battle, because I had insisted that when they established a new judgeship, that I should appoint the judge. Being Republicans, the Legislature thought the person ought to be elected and not appointed by me, a Democrat. So when the Legislature was considering setting up this judgeship, they sent word around to me that if I would appoint Clark Adams, then they would let me make the appointment. I rather suspect they thought that was in my mind anyway. And I just point this out to show that at least there was one occasion on which the Legislature and I were in perfect agreement.
So contrary to the usual rules of the game between us, when they set up this judgeship they permitted me to make the appointment, and of course I was glad and delighted to appoint Clark Adams.
Clark Adams served on that court with distinction, and with such approval from the people of that community that he could have served until his death. But the time came when he felt that he ought to stand down, and he did. At that time I had the opportunity of attending a number of tribute dinners to Clark Adams. And I must say that any person who had the kind of esteem and acclaim from his fellow citizens that Clark Adams had would feel rich indeed, because at every one of those dinners that I went to the outpouring of admiration, love and affection was something to behold.
The only thing that I might add was that Clark Adams was very faithful, would meet every appointment I made, unless it was on November 15. Deer season was sacred. And as a consequence, there could be no violation of his right to attend to the most important business of the day. And so, as I look back on Clark Adams, it’s with a great deal of affection and admiration, as really the perfect gentleman. A man who’s integrity was never questioned. A person who had the love and admiration of his colleagues wherever he was, and of his entire home community.
I’m afraid that no longer being Governor, I can’t speak forever, so I had better permit my friend and former colleague, William P. Hampton, himself a distinguished judge, to make remarks about Clark Adams.
Mister Chief Justice, the remarks you have just made about former Justice ADAMS are deeply appreciated by all of his friends and acquaintances who are here present today. We understand that the tradition of giving portraits of the justices of this state largely has paralleled the tradition that there has been in the past of giving of portraits of Governors to the state. Unfortunately, during the Depression days of the 1930’s this tradition came to a halt, and I certainly do commend the Court for attempting to fill the gap that presently exists in the portraits of the past justices of the Court.
After Clark Adams passed away a few years ago, a group of his friends, admirers, and former colleagues decided to join together in arranging for an oil painting to be made of him so that it could be placed in a suitable location in this building. As I understand it, shortly before Clark’s death he happened to be in conversation with former Chief Justice MARY COLEMAN. At that time they were discussing having a portrait painted of Clark, but it just never came to be because of his untimely passing.
I would like to recognize at this time those who contributed to this effort, in addition to myself, Kenneth McConnell, William Booth, Charles Clippert, Brian Sullivan, Robert Webster, Richard Condit, Joseph Hardig, Warren Newton and James Clarkson, many of whom are in attendance today. I also would like to introduce at this time Mrs. Clark J. Adams, Adeline, who is here with us. Adeline, would you stand up?
Clark’s brother, Donald Adams, who served for many years with distinction as an Oakland County Probate Judge, is here, along with his wife Betty. Don and Betty, would you please stand up?
In addition, I would like to introduce a number of members of the family, including the following each of their names. Dorothea Gale, John Windea, Helen Ryker, Geraldine Pagel, Mr. and Mrs. William Nemek, Mr. and Mrs. Everett Garrison, and Mr. and Mrs. Roy Plant. Will you please stand?
These are cousins and other relatives of the family, together with close friends.
Also we have with us Barbara Plants, who was Clark’s secretary while in Lansing, together with Marie Bruce, who was his longtime secretary while Clark was an Oakland County circuit judge. Would the two of you please stand, please?
And finally, I am very pleased that we have an outstanding contingent of the Oakland County circuit bench, most of whom were former colleagues, like myself, of Clark Adams. And I’d like to introduce each of these persons and ask them to stand as I say their names. First of all, from the United States District Court in Detroit, federal Judge Phillip Pratt. The Chief Judge of the Oakland County Circuit Court, the Honorable Steven Andrews. And the following Oakland County circuit judges, Fred Ziem, James S. Thorburn, Richard D. Kuhn, John N. O’Brien, Gene Schnelz, George LaPlata, Robert Anderson, Fred Mester, and this may be the first public announcement of this, the newly elected Chief Judge of the Oakland County Circuit Court, the Honorable Francis X. O’Brien. And one other dignitary that we have, Mister Chief Justice, is Mrs. Lillian Moffitt, who is the Vice-Chairman of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.
I might digress just for a moment from my prepared remarks to pick up where the Chief Justice left off in his comment about how it was that Clark Adams happened to be appointed to the Supreme Court. That is a story that is well known to those of us in Oakland County, and I think it indicates the high regard that those of us in the Republican party have for this longstanding Democrat that we honor here today. The members of the Oakland County bench who are in attendance are Republicans all, as I am. We served with Clark Adams, and we found him to be a man of great integrity, and great compassion. And I think it speaks well for him, the bipartisan support that this fine gentleman had during his tenure of office, and the support that he had from members of all political parties. Clark Adams graduated from the University of Michigan, having obtained his A.B. and his J .D. degrees from the university and married Adeline in June of 1929. He practiced law in the City of Pontiac with C. Bryan Kinney, and in 1936, 1938, and again in 1940 he was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. Thereafter, during the tenure of our current Chief Justice Williams, which he was Governor of the state, Clark Adams served as his legal advisor, and was thereafter appointed to the Supreme Court on August 14th, 1952 to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Justice Walter H. North.
Justice Adams served on the Court until December 31, 1953, having been victorious in the November 1952 election over two other opponents, but having been defeated in the April 1953 election by Justices Dethmers and Kelly. I often thought when I researched that for my presentation today, it’s bad enough having to run for office every six years, but having to run for statewide office twice within a scope of three of four months sounds awfully tiring to me.
Thereafter, former Justice Adams was appointed to the Oakland County Circuit Court by Governor Williams to fill a newly created seat. Justice Williams told you the method by which that occurred. At that time you may recall that Oakland County had three circuit judges for many years, Judges Hartrick, Holland, and Doty. Those three names had been well-known in the Oakland County judicial circuit for many years. Judge Adams joined that distinguished group in 1956 and served until he decided to retire from the bench in April of 1973.
During the brief tenure that Justice ADAMS had on the Supreme Court he prided himself in the opinions that he wrote. In doing some research for my presentation I found his opinions in the Michigan Reports, volumes 335–338. During that brief tenure on the Court he authored 45 opinions. And take note, he averaged only six pages per opinion. Clark often felt that his position as a judge of the Oakland County Circuit Court was in his words, and I remember them very well, that “the job of a circuit judge is the best job in the world”. He said that time and time again, and I don’t think he ever forgave me for leaving the bench and going back into the private practice of law. He thoroughly enjoyed his work on the circuit court. I can recall many judges’ meetings where, long after we had debated a particular subject, Clark would give us his reasoned logic as to what his position was and why, and almost without exception his viewpoint would carry the day as a result of that debate. Clark was quiet; he listened to others speak. But when he spoke with that logic, and based upon his experience, his viewpoints would, on almost every occasion, carry the day. I recall when I was about to be sworn in as a new circuit judge in 1970 that Clark came to me and said, “One thing you want to be very careful not to do, and that is don’t let the lawyers argue with your opinions.” He said, “I listen to the lawyers, I give them every opportunity to be heard, give them equal time, but”, he said, “when it comes time for me to announce my opinion from the bench, and I indicate to the lawyers that I am ready to rule, that is it. After I have made my ruling I do not allow any lawyer to argue with what my pronouncement has just been from the bench.” I often thought how valuable that was to me, and often I have wished that other judges would follow suit in that very important advice.
Yes, Clark Adams was a big man. He was big in many ways. He was large in stature. To those who knew him he had a big heart. His mind had a broad compass. He had great scholarship. He had a great knowledge of Michigan law. And he had a keen and fertile mind that was steeped in love of the law, and enriched by his long experience in interpreting the law.
The portrait which is about to be presented, Mister Chief Justice, was painted by Dimitri Lazaroff, who is a well-known artist in the Pontiac community. This painting of Clark Adams is similar to a painting which is currently displayed in the entrance of the Oakland County Law Library in the Oakland County Court House, which has been appropriately named the Clark J. Adams-Phillip Pratt Law Library. At this time, Mister Chief Justice, I ask that the portrait be displayed. Thank you.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Thank you very much.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Before going on to the next portrait presentation, I would like to make a few introductions. We have two former colleagues here, one of whom is going to speak. The other, as far as I know, is not going to speak, but I do want him and his lovely wife, Lorabeth, to stand, JOHN FITZGERALD.
I’d like also to present ROBERT DANHOF, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. We have also with us the Attorney General, Frank Kelley, and I’ve been told that Judge Noel Fox is here. Noel Fox, before he was a judge, was also one of my legal advisors, and a colleague of Clark Adams. Another colleague of Clark Adams, and my office is Frank Blackford, who was Insurance Commissioner and a dozen other things. Frank Blackford, would you stand?
His name was mentioned, but he didn’t rise I’d like former State Bar President Joseph Hardig to stand. And Michael Franck, the State Bar Director—well, I should have written a six-page opinion, he might have still been here.
Proceeding to the next portrait presentation I have the high honor to present my distinguished and eloquent brother Justice JAMES RYAN to make remarks in tribute to Justice O’HARA.
JUSTICE RYAN: Thank you, Mister Chief Justice, my colleagues, and former colleagues, and ladies and gentlemen. These proceedings, quite naturally, stir a good many warm memories, especially, I suppose, in the hearts of the senior members of the bar and the ladies, and their spouses, who knew the honorees so very well and, in many cases, served with them. These proceedings must, for you at least, call to mind a much simpler time in our profession when the bar was much, much smaller, and I venture to say the profession held in somewhat higher esteem than it is generally held in today. And certainly a time when the members of the bar who were privileged to serve in the judiciary were really much better known to all of the lawyers in the Michigan bar community, and in many cases much better known to the public, than can be the case today. And these proceedings, if I may remind you, make a contribution to preserving that familiarity and that personal intimacy because each word of these proceedings is memorialized in the Michigan Reports, so that those who will come after us in the bench and bar will have an opportunity to come to know men like Judge STARR and Justice ADAMS, and Justice MICHAEL O’HARA much better, and almost as well as those of you who walked with them across Michigan and served with them in the courtrooms. So I would like, if I may, to make a contribution to those reports by reminding all of you about something of Justice MICHAEL D. O’HARA’s career.
Michael O’Hara was born in 1910. He was an Upper Peninsula native, and was to the bone. Born in Menominee, Michigan, he was the grandson of a lawyer, the son of a lawyer, and the nephew of eight lawyers; four uncles on his mother’s side were members of the bar, and four on his father’s side. Manifestly, it was hopeless that he move to any other profession than the law. He was educated at the University of Notre Dame, and his education included participation in the “B-squad” football team. He was always careful to be very accurate and not misleading about that.
Mike did post-graduate studies at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin, and was invited after that to become a member of the faculty. Surely, if there’s any truth in the notion that some of the Irish have been gifted with a touch of the lyric, it has to be said that Michael D. O’Hara was especially gifted. And the faculty and administration at St. Norbert recognized that. Any lawyer who’s ever read Michael O’Hara’s opinions would testify, I think, that that’s quite so.
He helped his father in politics early on when his dad was campaigning for Governor Frank D. Fitzgerald, our former colleague Justice Fitzgerald’s father. And the success of that campaign resulted in a lot of good things. One of them was that Michael O’Hara’s dad got a job as Auditor General of the State of Michigan in Governor Frank Fitzgerald’s administration.
Mike O’Hara is one of the last justices of this Court who was not a graduate of law school. And that isn’t a matter which is mentioned as needing any apology. He was one of a great many lawyers, one of a great many great lawyers, in Michigan who appeared in this and other courts of our state who had read the law in the offices of distinguished lawyers and judges and who, in that very difficult approach to mastering the law, qualified for admission to the bar after passing the bar examination. Mike O’Hara read the law at the feet of a distinguished Lansing lawyer by the name of LELAND CARR, who later became a chief justice of this Court. In 1935, Justice O’Hara was admitted to the bar, having been certified by Justice Carr and his colleagues in the Michigan bar as qualified to practice law. After being admitted to the bar, Michael O’Hara returned to Menominee where he practiced in that conglomerate of Doyle-O’Hara layers in the Upper Peninsula. He was admitted to the bar in Wisconsin as well, in 1938. On the personal side, Mike O’Hara was married to Jean Pritchard of Franklin, Indiana, and together they brought into the world Terrence Eileen, and Kevin Jean, and Michael Dennis, and Patrick Sean, themselves no strangers to the lyric, I suspect.
In 1943, Mike became a Marine and he rose from the rank of Pfc. to the rank of First Lieutenant. He saw action as part of the invasion force in Okinawa, which resulted in the decimation of a greater number of American combat troops than in any other operation in the nation’s history. Thanks be to God, he survived it. He was part of the occupation forces in Japan before he returned to Michigan and became an Administrative Law Judge, as we call them now, in the Unemployment Compensation Division.
Mike had an interest in being a lawyer from his earliest days, having come from a family of lawyers. One can only infer, and I suspect—as a matter of fact he told me—that for many years he had in mind the privilege of service in the judiciary; a privilege for which he yearned. He sought, because he was invited to seek, election to this Court twice, and was disappointed in defeat in 1956 when former Justice TALBOT SMITH succeeded in winning about 54,000 more votes than Mike did. And the next year, once again, he failed election, despite his best effort and those of a tremendous legion of voters in the Upper Peninsula. There was elected instead former Chief Justice THOMAS MATTHEW KAVANAGH. But Mike was finally elected to the Supreme Court in 1962. He became the fifth judge from the Upper Peninsula to be handed the privilege of serving on the Michigan Supreme Court. From 1962 to 1969, his service was indeed with distinction. The kind and the character of that service will be addressed in just a few moments, but not by me.
In 1967, Mike’s wife Jean having passed away, Mike was privileged to meet, and fall in love with, and marry for a new life, Mary Douglas Quarles Kamps, and they began a happy second marriage here in Michigan, here in the Lansing area.
His service on the Supreme Court terminated in January of 1969, but Mike continued to serve as a member of the Michigan Court of Appeals, at the specific request of the chief judge of that court, and with the unanimous concurrence of his former colleagues here. He served as a Court of Appeals judge for five years. He was called to his eternal reward in 1978.
I’ll make no effort to remind those of you who knew him so well of the kind of man he was, because his distinguished record, personal and professional, makes all the statement about that that needs to be made. But for those who may not have known Michael O’Hara quite so well, and for those who, in generations after us, will only come to know him because of what they read of him in the Michigan Reports as that record is being recounted today, let me share with you just a couple of statements which are properly attributable to Mike.
He worried a lot when he was campaigning for election and re-election to this Court that he would somehow be wittingly or unwittingly characterized as a partisan. And he consistently, and very publicly, resisted any categorization as a Republican or a Democrat, or as a partisan of any cause of philosophy. And it was reported in the newspapers across the state because of a wire service report that when comment was made about his philosophical disposition to liberalism, Michael O’Hara said:
“The very nature of judicial duty revolts against a predisposition toward the interest of any political party, economic group, or any other kind of faction.”
And he later said:
“I don’t feel that any of the decisions made during my time on the Supreme Court can be fairly characterized as political. They reflect in deed, among our colleagues, a difference in judicial philosophy.”
And when the great civil rights movement of the middle and late ’60’s caught fire across the country, and by that I mean in the noblest sense, and when all of us were called to reconsider our commitment to the notion of equal justice to which we had sworn allegiance, Mike said this:
“As far as civil rights are concerned, there’s no better place to learn that all races are equal before the law than in a landing barge from which I led 16 Negro Marines ashore in Okinawa in 1945.”
Well, that’s just a touch of the history of Justice MICHAEL D. O’HARA. Certainly only the bare bones of his trek through this state personally, professionally, and on this Court.
I would like now to call upon the only justice, the only person present, I think that’s correct to say, who actually served with Justice O’HARA on this Court, former Chief Justice THOMAS E. BRENNAN.
I was doubly honored and pleased to receive your letter, Mister Chief Justice WILLIAMS, inviting me to participate in these ceremonies. It is of course always a high honor and a privilege to contribute to the record of this Court on these occasions.
In a very real sense the portrait presentations and memorials, retirements, and inaugurals observed in this room, taken as a compendium, constitute the true history of the Supreme Court of Michigan. For this Court, like any Court, beyond its pronouncements, its powers, and its precedents is at bottom a human organism. Its people are its life. Their stories are its story. And so it is fitting that the life and works of the late Justice MICHAEL D. O’HARA have been noted upon the record. The eloquent words of Mister Justice Ryan leave no important details to be supplied. My role here merely is, I suppose, to add a dash of flavor: I served on this Court with Mike O’Hara from 1967 to 1968. He was my friend from that time until his tragic and untimely death.
He was the quintessential Upper Peninsula lawyer, full of stories of his cases, and those of his uncles, by which every human foible and every mystery of the human condition could be aptly illustrated. He was Irish to his socks, full of wit and puckish good humor. Laughter came easily and lingered in his voice. Warm in his affections, fervent in his convictions, Michael O’Hara was unyielding in his devotion to the administration of justice, the Green Bay Packers, the Notre Dame football team, and the United States Marines. The give and take at the conference table called up his considerable powers of persuasion. His was a forceful cogent pen. But my memory’s favorite picture of Michael O’Hara is framed in his apartment, and set in the evening, when the battles of the day were won or lost and he could wax poetic or philosophical, and plumb the depths of history and letters and ethics for the underpinnings of policy that made judicial decision-making so fascinating and challenging to him and to me, and such a crazy quilt of contradiction to his good and sensible wife Mary, who had a better record of success in debating Michael O’Hara than most of his colleagues.
He was a devoted father, a loving husband, a fine lawyer and an able judge. But if there is a single word to describe the man, it is the name he gave his boat, the “Pooka”. The word “pooka” has been defined as an imaginary, mischievous Irish spirit, a goblin, a whimsical visitor from the nether world. And so, if the portrait which the Court receives today has a special lifelike quality, it should come as no surprise to those of us who knew and loved Michael O’Hara. Of course, I would not expect every person in the courtroom to agree with me—but, to some of us with Irish ancestors, the presence of a pooka is a discernible phenomenon. It causes people to feel warm and friendly; it makes them smile. And that indeed would be the gift of Michael O’Hara to this Court and to all of us. Thank you.
JUSTICE RYAN: Thank you, Chief Justice BRENNAN.
If I may now, I would like to introduce for your recognition, Mike’s bride, Mary O Hara. And his sister, Nan Jacobsen, Mrs. Jacobsen, who flew down today from the Upper Peninsula. Michael F. Guthrie, Michael O’Hara’s cousin, is here. Mr. Guthrie? Thank you. Michael O’Hara’s law clerk, Mr. Thomas L. Prowse. Mr. Prowse, will you be recognized, where are you sir? Well, he’s not here at the moment. He was here.
Former friends, former friends and former neighbors I should say, of Michael O’Hara are Mr. and Mrs. John Powers. Will you be recognized for the Court? Thank you. Indeed, there may be others, and surely there are other old friends of Justice O’HARA in the courtroom, although your names do not appear on my list. I hope you will forgive me. Thank you.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: We’ve been favored twice with tongues touched with the blarney. May I introduce another person whose tongue has tasted more sauerbraten than blarney. Polly, will you stand up and be recognized? If any of you don’t know it, that’s the charming wife of Chief Justice BRENNAN.
And now, I think we’re entitled to see this portrait too.
CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Unless anyone wishes to add a few words and stand up to be recognized, we will retire to the lobby for such refreshments as there are available. I gather no one wishes to add anything further, being properly intimidated by these eloquent tongues we’ve heard and so I’ll call upon the crier to bring these events to an end.