Sanford Green

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Served from 1848 through 1857
Chief Justice: 1855, 1856

Born on May 30, 1807, in Grafton, New York, Sanford M. Green received little education until the age of 16 when he began studying under a private teacher. By the time he was 19, Green was teaching school as well as furthering his own education.

In 1832, Green married Mary Ann McKnight. He then began his five year legal study and upon admittance to the Bar he practiced law in New York. In 1837, he relocated to Owosso, Michigan. In 1842, Green was elected to the State Senate. He was also a member of the Judiciary Committee and, as a result, was instrumental in revising the Statutes of the State that were adopted in 1847.

After Green’s initial public service, he went into private practice – first with Lt. Governor Richardson and then with General H.L. Stevens. However, he was thrust back into the public sphere when Governor Epaphroditus Ransom appointed him to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1848. He held that position until the close of 1857. His service did not end there, as he became the Circuit Judge for the Sixth District from 1858 until his retirement in 1867.

After retirement, he moved to Bay City with the intention of practicing law, but Green’s colleagues persuaded him to fill a vacancy on the Bench of the Eighteenth Circuit, which he did from 1872 until 1888. In the last election in which Green was a candidate, he received all but five votes in his district. “Criminals themselves have repeatedly testified to their esteem and love for him.” (“Hon. S.M. Green is Dead,” Bay City Tribune. Tuesday, August 13, 1901, Bay City, Michigan.)

Upon retiring from the Supreme Court but while a Circuit Court Judge, Green wrote Green’s Practice and Green’s New Practice, which organized the Statutes of Michigan. He also compiled Michigan’s Township laws. The work said to best represent him is his book, Crime, Its Nature, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention. Green also became interested in manufacturing in his later years.

Sanford M. Green died on August 13, 1901. (Reed, George I. Bench and Bar of Michigan: A History and Biography. Chicago: The Century Publishing and Engraving Co., 1897.)

Portrait presented on: (click link to read transcript)
November 15, 1898

Portrait Artist:
Ives, Percy

Oil on canvas

74.9 x 62 cm (29 1/2 x 24 7/16 in.)

Owned by:
State of Michigan

Current location:
Michigan Supreme Court Detroit: Hallway

Portrait photo by:
Doug Elbinger, Lansing – June 1996