Elizabeth Weaver was the 98th justice on the Michigan Supreme Court, and the fifth woman to serve on the state’s highest court. She was elected to the court in November 1994, replacing Justice Robert P. Griffin who had retired. Both resided in the Traverse City area, having been born elsewhere (Griffin in the Detroit area and Weaver in New Orleans, Louisiana). Justice Weaver’s death on April 22nd followed Justice Griffin’s by just six days.
Elizabeth Weaver was elected as the 98th Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court in 1995 and was named Chief Justice of the Court in 1999.1
Weaver graduated from Tulane University Law School and began her practice working with an oil company and a private law firm in New Orleans. She eventually relocated to Michigan where she taught first grade and served as the dean of girls at Leelanau School in Glen Arbor. This began her involvement in and dedication to improving the lives of children. In 1974, Weaver was elected as Leelanau County probate judge, a position which she held for over 12 years. Weaver received national recognition for her fair but firm treatment of juvenile delinquents. Her innovative approach called for secured detention of the delinquents, as well as restitution, apologies to victims, community service, and written essays about the purpose of the laws they violated. She was committed to the juvenile justice system and the children who appeared before her.
In 1986, Weaver was elected to the Michigan Court of Appeals, 3rd District. However, her interest in juvenile justice never wavered. She served on numerous committees and commissions dealing with issues ranging from child abuse and neglect to docket control in the probate courts. She also served as chair of Governor John Engler’s Task Force on Children’s Justice.
In 1994, with her election to the Michigan Supreme Court, Justice Elizabeth Weaver had scaled the heights of the Michigan judicial system. But to the many children whose lives she had touched as a teacher, she would forever be known as Aunt Betty.
1Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society Update, Spring 1999.
Elizabeth A. Weaver was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her B.A in 1962 from H. Sophie Newcomb College. In 1965, she received her J.D. from Tulane University. While pursuing her law degree, she was an editor of the Tulane Law Review. In addition to her formal education, Weaver attended the Institute of Judicial Administration Appellate Judges Seminar at the New York University School of Law in 1987.
Weaver’s legal career began when she worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Oliver P. Carriere of the Louisiana Civil District Court. She was admitted to practice in Louisiana in 1965, and in Michigan in 1973. She was the Attorney/Title Specialist for the Chevron Oil Company.
Weaver’s judicial service began with her election to the office of Leelanau County Probate Juvenile Judge in 1974, serving in that position until January 1, 1987. She was elected to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1987 and was re-elected in 1992. Weaver joined the Michigan Supreme Court upon her election in 1994 and was re-elected in 2002. She served as Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court from 1999 until 2001.
Organizations and activities that deal with education and youth consume Weaver’s time. She is the instructor and originator of the course, “What Everyone Should Know About the Law,” at the Central Michigan University Off-Campus Education Department. She was a former dean of girls and a first grade teacher, and she developed the “Children and the Law” project for elementary schools. She is a Sunday school teacher and church board chair.
Due to a position she took on juvenile justice, Weaver was featured in People magazine and on the TV show “Good Morning America.” She was named one of the five Outstanding Young Women in Michigan by the Michigan Jaycees. Weaver is also an honorary member of Delta Kappa Gamma, which is the International Teachers Honor Society. ( Michigan Manual: Ed. 1997 – 1998. Lansing, Michigan: Legislative Council, State of Michigan.)
Weaver passed away on April 21, 2015.
Oil on canvas
30″ x 40″
State of Michigan
Hall of Justice – 4th Floor: Rotunda