Michael Cavanagh

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mfcServed from 1983 through 2014
Chief Justice: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994

Michael F. Cavanagh was born on October 21, 1940, in Detroit, Michigan. He was graduated from the University of Detroit High School in 1958 and he received his B.A. from the University of Detroit in 1962. Cavanagh earned his J.D. from the University of Detroit Law School in 1966, and that same year married Patricia Ferris.

Cavanagh’s career began when he was a research attorney for the Michigan Court of Appeals from 1966 until 1967. He was the City Attorney for Lansing from 1967 until 1969, and he was a partner in the law firm of Farhat, Burns, and Story, P.C., from 1969 until 1973.

Cavanagh was elected to the Judicial District Court, where he served from 1973 until 1974. In 1975, he was elected to the Michigan Court of Appeals and served in that position until 1982. In November of 1982, he was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court and re-elected in November of 1990, 1998, and 2006. Cavanagh served as Chief Justice from 1991 until 1995.

In addition to his professional career, Cavanagh was a member of various legal and community organizations. He is a member of a number of Bar associations and judicial committees. Cavanagh was on the Board of Directors for Cooley Law School, the American Heart Association, and the Lansing YMCA. From 1987 until 1988 he was the president of the Incorporated Society of Irish-American Lawyers. (Michigan Manual: Ed. 1997–1998. Lansing, Michigan: Legislative Council)

Cavanagh ties Big Four Justice James V. Campbell for longest service on the Michigan Supreme Court. He is the father of Justice Megan Cavanagh.

Portrait presented on: (Click link to read transcript)
May 18, 2016

Michigan Reports Vol. No.: 499

Portrait Artist:
Del Priore, Michael

Oil on canvas

47 1/2″ X 35 1/2″

Owned by:
State of Michigan

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

Portrait photo by:
Dave Trumpie – 2016