Franz Kuhn

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Served from 1912 through 1919
Chief Justice: 1917, 1918

Franz C. Kuhn, was born in Detroit on February 8, 1872. He graduated from the Literary Department of the University of Michigan in 1893 and from the Law Department of that institution in 1894. He began the practice of law at Mt. Clemens, Michigan, immediately after his graduation and served his county as Circuit Court Commissioner until 1896. He was then elected Prosecuting Attorney of Macomb County and in 1898 and 1900 was re-elected to that office. In 1904 he began his first judicial work as Probate Judge of Macomb County, a position he held until he resigned in 1910 in order to accept the office of Attorney General of the State. During his service, he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Michigan Supreme Court in 1912.

At the expiration of the term for which he was appointed, he was elected to and remained a member of the Supreme Court until he resigned in 1919. Soon thereafter he was appointed president of the Michigan Bell Telephone Company, where he worked until his death.

Kuhn’s colleague, Grant Fellows, stated that, “No one who was present at the last conference he attended as a member of this Court will ever forget the occasion. After the work was over he tried to tell us in a voice choked with emotion how much the close friendship of the members of this Court meant to him, and finally breaking down completely and with tears streaming down his face he said good-bye and severed his connection with this Court.”

Kuhn’s greatest trials resulted from the quarrels and disagreements between his friends and those whom he held dear. Physically he was very prepossessing and agreeable in his friendliness. A person who met him always remembered him and bore him in mind in a distinct and impressive sort of way.

Franz C. Kuhn died on June 16, 1926. (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Chicago: Callaghan and Co., 1879 – 1948, Vol. 236.)

Memorial and Portrait presented on: (Click link to read transcript)
October 19, 1926

Oil on canvas

74.93cm X 62.23cm (29 1/2″ X 24 1/2″)

Owned by:
State of Michigan

Current location:
Hall of Justice – 6th Floor:
Justice Viviano’s Suite

Portrait photo by:
Doug Elbinger, Lansing – June 1996