Leland W. Carr was born on September 29, 1883, on a farm in Livingston County, Michigan. He attended Michigan State Normal College at Ypsilanti, and then enrolled at the University of Michigan Law School. Upon his graduation from law school and his admission to practice before the Michigan Supreme Court in 1906, he entered the private practice of law in Ionia.
Carr’s first experiences with public service were in the schools. He taught school and was superintendent of schools in Marine City in the years 1906 to 1908, and for the next two years was superintendent of schools in Ely, Nevada. He was appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Harry F. Kelly in 1945.
While in Ionia, he served as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney of Ionia County. In 1913, Carr was appointed Assistant Attorney General, moving to Lansing, where he remained for the rest of his life. In 1921, after serving as an Assistant Attorney General and as a legal advisor to the State Highway Department, Carr was appointed to the Ingham County Circuit Court by Governor Alex J. Groesbeck – a post he filled until his appointment to the Michigan Supreme Court by Governor Harry F. Kelly on September 24, 1945, to replace Justice Howard Wiest. Carr won the vacancy election in November 1946 and was reelected in 1947 and 1955. He retired at the end of his term on December 31, 1963, and returned to his home near Lansing, where he died on May 30, 1969.
Carr had a tremendous memory for cases. During the entire history of the Michigan Supreme Court until his retirement, the Court had decided roughly 36,000 cases, and Carr seemed to be familiar with them all. While Carr was on the Court he wrote 711 opinions and participated in 4,800 in total that were handed down during his 18 years of service. He had a remarkable legal mind and knew the rules of practice. At the same time, while he knew the law and the cases, he was not one to spout off about all that he knew. (Michigan Supreme Court. Michigan Reports: Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of Michigan. Rochester, N.Y.: Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Co., 1949–1998, Vol. 382.)
Portrait presented on: (Click link to read transcript)
April 22, 1980
Gamble, Roy C.
Oil on canvas
111.13cm X 81.28cm (43 3/4″ X 32″)
State of Michigan
Hall of Justice – 1st Floor, Conference Center
Portrait photo by:
Doug Elbinger, Lansing – June 1996