George H. Durand was born in Cobleskill, New York, on February 21, 1833. He spent most of his childhood days working for his father on the farm and his evenings diligently studying. Upon completion of his courses in classical studies at Wesleyan Seminary, he moved to Michigan. By the age of 18, Durand was teaching school in Oxford, Michigan, and he began the study of law.
Upon his entrance to the Bar, he opened his own practice in Flint. For nine years, he served as director of public schools in Flint and later served as Alderman of that area. In 1873, he was elected Mayor of Flint and was re-elected the subsequent year. However, prior to the expiration of his term, he was elected as a Representative to the State Legislature. While serving in that capacity, Durand was the chairman for the Commerce Committee. In 1875, he was admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court.
His service on the Michigan Supreme Court began upon the retirement of Justice Allen B. Morse in 1892.
From 1893 through 1896, Durand was chosen by the United States government to serve as prosecutor in a case regarding violations of Customs Law and the Chinese Exclusion Act. The illegal activity was so widespread that many important government and business officials found themselves involved. The cases resulted in an indictment of all involved and numerous convictions. “Judge Durand received from the Treasury Department and from the Department of Justice the highest compliments for the manner in which he had conducted these great cases…” (Reed, George I. The Bench and Bar of Michigan: A History and Biography. Chicago: The Century and Publishing and Engraving Co., 1897.)
Also in 1893, Durand was elected President of the State Bar of Michigan and was also the first president of the State Board of Law Examiners. (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Chicago: Callaghan and Co., 1879 – 1948, Vol. 135.)
George H. Durand died on June 8, 1903.
Portrait presented on: (Click link to read transcript)
October 1, 1898
Oil on canvas
74.93cm X 62.23cm (29 1/2″ X 24 1/2″)
State of Michigan
Hall of Justice – 6th Floor:
Justice Megan Cavanagh’s Suite
Portrait photo by:
Douglas Elbinger – June 1996