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Served from 1832 through 1843
Chief Justice: 1843
George Morrell was of Huguenot descent, his ancestors having fled from France to Germany on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and afterwards came to America. The name was formerly spelled Morele.
George Morrell was born in Lenox, Massachusetts, in 1786. He was educated at Lenox Academy and at Williams College, from which he was graduated in 1807; he went on to study law in Troy, New York. He lived in Cooperstown, New York, from 1811 to 1832, during which time he was in the state militia, rising from the rank of sergeant to major general. He was Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Otsego County in 1815, and was appointed First Judge of that Court, and re-appointed to that position in 1832. He became Master in Chancery in 1819 and Solicitor and Counselor in Chancery in 1823. In 1832, he was elected a member of the assembly for Otsego. In 1832, he was appointed Judge of the United States Court for the Territory of Michigan by President Andrew Jackson.
During the early years of his judicial work it was not as customary as it is now to have the decisions of the Supreme Court written out, and there was no shorthand writer in attendance and no other person to preserve the language of the opinions delivered. For several years the Court had no official Reporter, and when one was appointed, he found that most of the decisions had been either delivered orally or lost. Morrell always wrote out in full his important opinions and a full series of his manuscripts was found, but they could not well be published without the rest. The Reporter was reluctantly compelled to begin his work at a time when the materials were more complete; our series, for this reason, contains but a few of his opinions, and these all belong to the later years of his judicial career. George Morrell died in Detroit, on March 8, 1845. (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Chicago: Callaghan and Co., 1879 – 1948, Vol. 4-320.)
Portrait presented on: (click link to read transcript)
June 10, 1880
Oil on canvas
99.06cm X 80.01cm (39″ X 31 1/2″)
State of Michigan
Hall of Justice – 6th Floor: Rotunda
Portrait photo by:
Doug Elbinger, Lansing – June 1996