Howard Wiest

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38-smWiestServed from 1921 through 1945
Chief Justice: 1923, 1930, 1938

Memorial / 50th Anniversary of Admission to the Bar

Howard Wiest’s life began and ended in very turbulent times of U.S. history. He was born at the height of the Civil War and died shortly after World War II ended. Wiest was born in Macomb County, on February 24, 1864. Wiest’s education was varied. He left school before completing high school to become an apprentice in the machinist trade. But Wiest made a change of direction and ventured to the city of Detroit to enter the law offices of Atkinson and Atkinson as an office boy and student.

Upon admission to the Bar, he began his professional career with an appointment from Governor Cyrus Luce as Circuit Court Commissioner in 1887, serving through 1888.

In April of 1899, he was elected Judge of the Thirtieth Judicial Circuit, and was re-elected in 1905, 1911, and 1917. His term as Circuit Judge began on January 1, 1900, and he served continuously for twenty-one years.

Wiest was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court replacing Flavius L. Brooke in 1921, and served as a Justice for twenty-four and one-half years. “He was personally slow to accept changing times. The paradox lies in the fact that his personal preferences found no reflection in his holdings. For instance, while the automobile affected day-to-day life, Wiest retained a personal preference for travel by rail and by horse and carriage. While the electric age affected daily lives, Wiest retained his personal preference for illuminating gas and kerosene lamps.”

Another matter of sincere personal satisfaction and pleasure to Wiest was the enjoyment of his simple country estate near Williamston. He would wander around his estate in a battered straw hat set firmly on his head, collarless, corn-cob pipe in hand, greeting all while maintaining the dignity which never deserted him.

Howard Wiest died on September 16, 1945.

Portrait Artist:
Gamble, Roy C.

Oil on canvas

120.6 x 87.3cm (47 1/2 x 34 1/4 in)

Owned by:
State of Michigan

Current location:
Hall of Justice – 6th Floor:
Chief Justice Bridget McCormack’s Suite

Portrait photo by:
Doug Elbinger, Lansing – June 1996