A Tribute To Hiram C. Bond

OCTOBER 31, 1969

THE CHIEF JUSTICE: We are met here this noon for a special ceremonial session of the Court to observe the occasion of the retirement of Hiram C. Bond as State Reporter for the Supreme Court of Michigan. The Court wishes to acknowledge, first of all, the presence of many interested persons and, particularly, some of the Judges of the Court of Appeals, Judge VINCENT J. BRENNAN, Judge ROBERT J. DANHOF, Judge LOUIS D. MCGREGOR, former Justice of this Court MICHAEL D. O’HARA are with us today, and our former Court Administrator, Mr. Meredith H. Doyle, is present, and indeed, the entire family of the Supreme Court has gathered for this important occasion to pay some homage and tribute to a man who has contributed vastly to the work of the administration of justice and to the work of this Court through so many, many years. It is my privilege at this time to call on Mr. James R. Ramsey who will offer some remarks on behalf of the State Bar of Michigan.

May it Please the Court: It gives me a great deal of personal pleasure to be permitted to say a few words on behalf of the State Bar of Michigan at this testimonial honoring, Hiram C. Bond, who has been State Reporter of Michigan since 1933.

Hiram C. Bond was born on October 23, 1899, in London Township, Monroe County, Michigan. He attended the public schools in various places in the southeastern part of Michigan. At the University of Michigan he received his Bachelor of Arts degree and in 1926 his degree of Bachelor of Laws. In November of 1933, upon the death of his predecessor, Richard W. Cooper, Mr. Bond began his long career of service to this Court and to the People of the State of Michigan, first, as Acting State Reporter, and later, he was appointed State Reporter.

He brought to the office exceptional qualifications. In addition to his formal liberal arts and legal education he had served as secretary-legal clerk for Justices JOSEPH H. STEERE, RICHARD C. FLANNIGAN, and Louis H. FEAD. He had taken part in indexing the public acts of Michigan under supervision of the Secretary of State on a contractual basis. Many volumes of the public acts show the influence of his work. He had also taken part in the work of compiling the laws of Michigan, serving first as a law editor and later chief editor of the Compiled Laws of 1929. He had been an Assistant State Reporter.

It was my privilege to work with and for Mr. Bond for a considerable time, first in the preparation of indexes for the Public Acts of Michigan and later for 19 years in the office of the State Reporter. I know from first hand experience the dedication and devotion to this Court, to the Justices, and to the State contained in his work as State Reporter. Henry Clay said:

“Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees; and both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people.”

Hiram Bond viewed his office and his work in much the same way.

The first Michigan Report to bear the name Bond is numbered 265 and the last will be numbered 382. In addition to the Michigan Reports, the first 11 bound volumes of the Michigan Court of Appeals Reports bear his name. Volume 12 gives the reporter as Bond-Lewis. Advance sheets through volume 18 part 1 have been published as of the last of October, 1969.

The syllabi were all prepared by Mr. Bond. They were done skillfully and accurately so that each portrayed a statement of a point of law determined by the decision. Beginning with volume 375, syllabi were also prepared for each point of law discussed in each opinion of less than a majority of the participating Justices. These syllabi were set in italics. A caption preceded these syllabi which indicated whether the opinion was a separate or dissenting opinion and the names of the Justices who subscribed to it.

Catch lines were prepared in such fashion that they served as a key to the contents of the syllabi. Standard works such as Corpus Juris Secundum, American Jurisprudence, and the Michigan Digest were consulted to keep the meaning of the topics as uniform as possible. Many times Mr. Bond has asked me where I would look to find a particular point of law. He was interested in the viewpoint of a practicing lawyer. It was the practicing lawyer who would be the largest user of his work.

The index to each volume was prepared by him from the syllabi, the catch lines, and from material which appeared in the headnotes. It contained many cross references. It was designed to make the work of the practicing lawyer easy and fruitful.

Constructive criticism of his work was invited. Pride of authorship always took second place to accuracy. Irrespective of acceptance or rejection of the criticism, the critic was always thanked for his suggestion. As a result criticism was as freely given as it was graciously received.

The staff was expected to compare statements of fact in the opinions of the Justices with the facts found in the record and, if discrepancies appeared, to consult the Justice who authored the opinion. How better can the people’s faith in an appellate court be maintained than to have each opinion state the facts forming the basis of the opinion with absolute accuracy?

Citation of cases were matters of especial concern. Each case cited was read to ascertain that it stood for the point of law for which it was cited. The spelling of the name of the case was compared with printer’s copy for accuracy. Parallel citations were given so that the opinions would have maximum availability to the users. Before the copy was released to the printer each citation, whether primary or parallel, had to be verified by the only method that would positively insure accuracy. Each book was opened to the page on which the case was to appear. If it appeared there, the citation had to be accurate, otherwise correction was in order.

During the time he was State Reporter, Mr. Bond also was an appointed member of the Michigan Compilation Commission and served as its Vice-Chairman, and later as Chairman. Service there included a part in the direction of the work of the staff in preparing the Compiled Laws of 1948. It also included editing and publishing the Administrative Code which was keyed to the Compiled Laws of 1948 for greater usefulness.

One of the exceptional contributions of Mr. Bond to the publication of statutory law is, in my opinion, the table which appeared in 1949 in the back of the volume of the Public Acts and has been in each volume published since that time. The amount of statutory history that is contained in this small cumulative table is almost beyond belief. It is used extensively by lawyers and other researchers.

In the preface to the Compiled Laws of 1948, the Michigan Compilation Commission has stated well two of the important hallmarks of the work of Hiram C. Bond, namely, accuracy and convenience for users. The Commission said “No pains have been spared in order to follow the constitutional and legislative direction to compile all general laws in force ‘without alteration’ . * * * Two phases of the policy adopted by the Commission for the ultimate convenience of the users which bear repetition are the use of a decimal numbering system and storage of the type for use in the future compilations as the legislature may order them published. Frequency of legislative sessions makes it imperative that a compilation be made available in a brief time.”

In volume 44 Michigan State Bar Journal, page 21, is an article entitled In re Hiram C. Bond. Of his ideals, it is said:
“Ideals that have their origin in an atmosphere of stability, respectability, and altruism of such nature as to persevere as a dominant guiding force, not with standing severe tests and vicissitudes, and that continue from holder to holder ever offering a challenge to effectuate an improvement in the lot of mankind.”

Mr. Bond has always been true to his ideals. Mr. Bond has been a member of the State Bar of Michigan for many years. He has been a lawyer in the finest tradition of a noble profession. And so, the State Bar of Michigan on this occasion proudly proclaims its appreciation for the work of Hiram C. Bond as State Reporter and honors him as a man, a fellow lawyer, and a dedicated public servant.

THE CHIEF JUSTICE: Thank you, Mr. Ramsey. At this time, I would like to call upon an Associate Justice of this Court to respond on behalf of the Court and to make the formal statement in our behalf to Mr. Bond.

Associate Justice EUGENE F. BLACK. Over the weekend, Hiram, I looked up some old files and some information at home, with regard to my acquaintance with you and also of your association with the Court since I came here nearly 14 years ago. And, for the Court, I would like to say that I recall meeting you first, when you had just taken on the task as research clerk and secretary for Justice STEERE in the month of June, 1926. I met you over in Jay Mertz’ office, and on that occasion I’ll never forget the fact that you had the temerity, in the course of listening there to some of the rather earthy pontifications of our then clerk, to contradict him with great respect, just as you have been wont to contradict us, on occasion, in recent years, and then to recall how, before Mr. Mertz in his utter amazement at anyone speaking back
to him, before he could even retort, you went out with that half-walk and that half-gait of yours, that has been a characteristic of you. As a result of that weekend of examination of old material, I have dictated a statement that, since it is going into our formal records, I would like to read to you. It is not very long.

You came to the Court first as an employee on the 16th of June, 1926. That was just 6 days before I came here to argue the first appeal that I had a part in bringing to this Court. You would not remember that first meeting, but I do.

And, the memory of it is just what I have given to you. Now, starting at that time as secretary and research clerk for Justice STEERE, and then along with additional work put upon you both by this Court, and also by the legislature, you came in 1931 to the position of Assistant State Reporter for this Court. Then, in 1933, to the position of Acting State Reporter. And, finally in 1934, you succeeded to the constitutional office of Reporter, for the Court. The position that you have held, and due to you, have performed ably and helpfully ever since, a matter of 36 continuous years.

Now, we have set this time apart to honor your decision to retire from a position which you yourself have honored by a most unusual kind of service. That kind of service, Hiram is best defined by that month-after-month and year after-year courteous persistence of yours, a persistence, which, despite our impatient annoyances over your nitpicking, has resulted in the protection of this Court from a multitude of mistakes. Mistakes which, if they had ever gotten into our books, would have appeared for all to see long after every one of us will have taken that long last horizontal ride. The Court realizes that all through your work your only thought has been one of obtaining and maintaining a great standard, a standard aimed always toward the useful quality of judicial opinion. That standard you learned well when men like GRANT FELLOWS, JOSEPH STEERE, NELSON SHARPE, HOWARD WEIST, JOHN BIRD, JOHN MCDONALD, and GEORGE CLARK were seated here, and right then were assisted by you. If I were to pick
out that part of your service which has impressed me above all else it would consist of the value to us of your almost perfect memory of statutes and cases with which you became so well familiar these past 36 years, of your insistence that each of them be quoted and cited and identified, not only with precision but in that context which understandable communication requires, and of your cheerful willingness to have that memory tapped by the Court at any time, whether at your office, or home, or even when you were up there for a weekend at Mackinaw City. The result of all this is that we have been a better Court on account of you, despite ourselves. From my own occasionally crestfallen experiences with you, I think it is not overstatement to say that Hiram Bond has become a most effective policy of insurance for the Court, the kind of insurance that protects judges from all errors excepting those the judges insist upon making despite good advice. Surely out of that same experience it should not be wrong to guess that you insured the Court correspondingly during the 1930’s and 1940’s as well as in recent years. And our thanks for all this go to you now.

Now that you have decided to retire, our sincere good wishes go with you. Take with those wishes a friendly request that each of us may call you at will, and as before, whenever we are unable to find that always hardest-to-find statute or case we know is in the books. Once, back in 1956 when I first came here, I heard you referred to by a now departed Brother as the ninth member of the Court. That, indeed you have been, certainly with my particular blessing. This program, Hiram, lists you as retired. You have not retired and you will never retire from the deep respect and high esteem of those with whom you have worked all these years, both present and departed. We are honored by
honoring, you as one of us and, as I close, please don’t forget this: We’re going to continue, as you are warned now, to call upon you for advice and more searches of your memory–and that means we will want your telephone numbers, all of them. That is all Mr. Chief Justice.

THE CHIEF JUSTICE: Mr. Bond, I am sure that those many friends of yours and members, as I have said, of the Supreme Court family, who have gathered here would like at this time to hear a few words from you:

Mr. BOND: May it Please the Court:

The only other time I have appeared before you sitting as a Court was when I was admitted to the Bar on October 12, 1926. It is with some trepidation that I appear as an attorney, especially on my own behalf. The cooperation I have had over the years from fellows like Jim Ramsey, Paul Watzel, and lately, from William Lewis, and from other members of our staff, has made what is possible here. Be that as it may, I just want to use one more word, that has not been used here, I am sure, for a long while. You have very kindly referred to it in many words, but, as usual, we have to put something tersely once in a while. The aim of our staff and of myself for many years has been, in part, to avoid having the Court commit the rhetorical crime of catachresis. If you do not know what it means, look in the dictionary.

Justice DETHMERS: What do you think it means?

Mr. BOND: Coming from a Greek scholar, I am surprised that you would even make such a request, because it means to prevent judges, under the circumstances, from misusing or abusing words.

Justice DETHMERS: Can you spell it?

Mr. BOND: Oh, that is easy, c-a-t-a-c-h-r-e-s-i-s. I have often wondered sometimes how some words get into the Reports. We had one word which was a combination of the word “horrible” and the word “terrific.” It ended up “horrific,” but we avoided that one before the bound volume appeared.

I was particularly pleased that Mr. Ramsey was chosen to represent the State Bar of Michigan. We worked together for 19 years and 3 months and then he departed for the Attorney General’s staff where he remained for some 10 years.
I would remind the Court that the present members of the Court constitute the eighty-fourth to the ninetieth members who have served on this bench. It has been my pleasure to know and to serve under not quite half of them. I believe 39 altogether. Former Justices, yet living, are Justice O’HARA, who has graced us with his presence, Justice EDWARDS, Justice EDWARD M. SHARPE, Justice VOELKER, Justice SOURIS, Justice TALBOT SMITH, Justice OTIS M. SMITH, Justice CLARK ADAMS, and Justice MCALLISTER. The late Justice STARR, another member from Grand Rapids, was a fourth member of this Court to be appointed to the Federal bench since 1926. Justice CARR was my back door neighbor. I enjoyed his friendship for many years, long before he came to the Supreme Court. He was a pillar of strength to the Bar and Bench of this State. This was testified to by the retirement dinner here in the Jack Tar Hotel some years ago. I treasure many personal recollections of each of the men who have been such distinguished members of this Court, since I came here in 1926. It has been a great experience to be a member of the staff for upwards of 43 years and I appreciate deeply being extended that privilege for so long, and today’s occasion.

I could ramble on indefinitely with reminiscences of my experiences here, but I think it would be somewhat difficult to make that appointment we have in the Jack Tar Hotel. I would say that this gathering has been one to which my family has come, my wife, three daughters and their husbands, and my brother have appeared. They have come Washington, and California to share in this.

THE CHIEF JUSTICE: Thank you very much, Mr. Bond. In the 380 some volumes of the ,Michigan Reports, there have appeared in the preliminary pages of many of them records of tributes and ceremonies such as this, in which the Court has taken note of the careers of the Greats in Michigan’s history, men like COOLEY, CAMPBELL, CHRISTIANCY, GRAVES, FELCH, and STEERE, men whose lives and careers have lighted the legal firmaments of this State. They were judges, leaders at the bar, governors, and senators. Never before have we had a ceremony like this to honor an employee of the Court. But I think that in recognizing you, Hiram, we recognize and pay honor also to all of those who have served and who do serve as clerks, commissioners, administrators, secretaries and in other capacities, who make the work of the Court meaningful.

We, by this ceremony today, establish on the record that the Court realizes and appreciates that they also serve who labor in tedium–those whose careers enlighten the nooks and crannies in daily toil–also contribute to the common cause.