In Memoriam Joseph B. Moore

OCTOBER 28, 1930

 Upon the convening of Court during the October term, 1930, on Tuesday, October 28th, JOHN H. PATTERSON, of Pontiac, presented the following resolutions, prepared by a committee of the Oakland County Bar Association, and moved the Court to place it on the records of the Court:

JOSEPH B. MOORE was born at Commerce Mich., November 3, 1845, the son of Jacob and Hepsibeth Moore.
His boyhood days were spent in the villages of Commerce and Walled Lake in each of which places his father operated a sawmill. He attended the country schools, afterward taking a three-year course at Hillsdale college and one year in the university of Michigan. At the conclusion of these studies, in 1868, he moved to the city of Lapeer and began the practice of law; taking an active part in politics. He held various local offices, served two terms as prosecuting attorney, and in 1878 was elected a member of the State senate where he served one year.

His industry and talents were such that he soon became a prominent member of the Lapeer bar and in 1888 was elected circuit judge for the judicial circuit composed at that time of the counties of Oakland and Lapeer. He held this position until 1896 when he was elected a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan; re-elected in 1905, 1913, and 1921, the latter time for a period of eight years which he did not serve as he resigned his office in December of 1925, after having served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of this State for a period of 30 years.

Since his retirement he has continued to live at Lansing, taking, until his last sickness, an active interest in public affairs.
Some weeks ago he was taken to Grace hospital, Detroit, to undergo a serious operation from which he never recovered, and where he died March 23, 1930, in the eighty-fourth year of his age.

Justice MOORE was an unusual man. As a lawyer he was thorough in his preparation, clear in his statement, and courteous in his manner. His greatest claim to the respect of not only the legal fraternity but the people of the State, is to be found in the record of his thirty-eight years of service on the circuit and Supreme Court benches.

He was keen in his analysis, lucid in his expression, and tenacious in his adherence to what he regarded as fundamental. A tireless worker, although he never possessed a great physical endowment.

He was a seeker after the correct principles which should govern the case under consideration. He was democratic in his instincts and manifested this in all his relations with men. At the same time he possessed an air of dignified aloofness which, coupled with a charming, courtly manner, rendered him a most delightful friend and companion.

He possessed in a high degree the confidence and loyalty of his associates upon the bench. He merited and received equally the respect of the lawyers at the bar.

In politics he was an earnest , consistent supporter of the Republican party.

To Justice MOORE was given the great boon of growing old gracefully; with an intellect unimpaired to the last; a constantly growing appreciation of the value of friendship; the consciousness, without ostentation, of having played an important part in the affairs of the State for over half a century; with patience and unconscious dignity and friendliness, he felt the shadows of the great Hereafter drawing closer and closer about him until finally he passed to his eternal reward.

Therefore, be it resolved:
1. That the State of Michigan in the death of Honorable JOSEPH B. MOORE has lost a son who has given over one-half a century of honest, untiring effort in the constructive, sane and upward progress of his native country.

2. That the bench of this State has lost one who gave it luster and prestige and commended it to all people.

3. That on the death of Justice MOORE the legal fraternity has lost a man who, as a lawyer, was the embodiment of those characteristics which are calculated to be an honor to our profession in the highest sense of the term.

4. That his immediate circle of friends, which was large, has lost forever a personality rare in that it combined democracy with dignity, unflinching honesty with courtly consideration; that in his personal relations the friends of the years that are gone were very dear to him, while scenes of his boyhood and early manhood days called to him with a voice which he neither tried to nor could forget; that as the years rolled by more and more the charm of his personality grew, the mellowness of his character was more apparent, and the deep-seated affection for his friends became more and more manifest.

Be it further resolved:

That a copy of these resolutions be spread at large upon the records of our Court, and a properly engrossed copy of the same forwarded to Mrs. Ella MOORE, the widow of Justice MOORE.

 Mr. THEODORE D. HALPIN, of Lapeer, read the following resolutions prepared by a committee of the Lapeer County Bar Association:

In proper appreciation of the splendid life of Justice JOSEPH B. MOORE, the bar of Lapeer county has adopted the following resolutions:
1. That while his death came in an orderly manner after a long life of usefulness, nevertheless his passing brought the deepest sorrow to those of us who have always considered him one of our number.

2. That Justice MOORE’S professional career has seldom been surpassed, if ever, by a lawyer practicing before the courts of this State. Commencing in 1869 with his admission to the bar and continuing until his death, it may well be pointed to as a splendid example of what a member of he legal profession owes to his community, his State, and his Country. As mayor of his city, prosecuting attorney, State senator, circuit judge, and Justice of the Supreme Court he served his fellow men. His association with the reported decisions of the Supreme Court began as early as the thirtieth Michigan, where, on page 410, he appears as counsel; his first decision as a member of the court is reported in the 108 Mich. 228, and the career thus began closes with Volume 233 of our Supreme Court Reports. In this long professional career Justice MOORE exhibited great legal talent, sound and extensive learning, and it was with his able assistance that our political institutions and jurisprudence attained the growth and development we so proudly exhibit today.

3. As a man, a colleague, a friend and a neighbor, those who knew Justice MOORE loved him. Kindly, courteous, and affectionate, he endeared himself to all with his pleasing and gracious manner and his social disposition. His intellectual tastes were refined and cultivated. To Lapeer he has always been and will always be, a man from our midst that we could point to with pride.

4. That these resolutions be spread upon the journal of the circuit court for the county of Lapeer, and that they be presented to the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan.

Mr. HALPIN then spoke as follows:
It seems presumptuous for me to stand before this bench that Justice MOORE was a member of for 30 years, to say anything that could add to the good name which he always has borne in this State and particularly as a member of this Court.

Thirty years is a long space of time for a man to be devoted to one position. During that time Justice MOORE had his part in framing and announcing the law of this State. The volumes of the Michigan Reports where his decisions appear and the decisions in which he had a part in framing will continue to be the law so long as law exists. It is something for any man to have a hand in making a decision which not only decides the rights of the parties involved but which is preserve in permanent form for all time to come when law is applied. We called Justice MOORE one of our bar. He cam to Lapeer in 1869, and on the 20th of October that year he was admitted to the bar by the circuit court for the county of Lapeer. He entered upon the practice of law at Lapeer and continued to practice law there until the first of January, 1888, when he became circuit judge of the Sixth judicial circuit, which at the time comprised Oakland and Lapeer counties. During the time he was a member of the bar and even before he was elected judge he had endeared himself to the people of that community. They knew his as an able and honorable member of the profession, a man who had the ethics of his profession at heart and in mind. He devoted his entire energy to the interest of his clients. He came to court with his cases well prepared both on the law and the facts. He had strong opposition during those years and some of the greatest lawsuits tried in this State were tried in Lapeer county with Justice MOORE as one of the attorneys. He was mayor of our city. He was State senator and prosecuting attorney. He took a hand in the affairs of our community and was loyal to his party, and in those days when our schoolhouses and town halls rang with the eloquence of political speeches, Justice MOORE had his part in them, not only in our county and our district, but throughout the State of Michigan.

He was an inspiration to the young men of that community as well he might be because if one could emulate the example and fill the place that he held in that community while he was practicing in the legal profession he had accomplished much. He was judge of our circuit court from January, 1888, to 1896, when he became a member of this Court. There were no half way measures with Justice MOORE when he was our circuit judge. I have heard him make the remark “I may be wrong, but if I am I will put that proposition in such shape so the Supreme Court will know exactly how I held.” You could always put a finger on Justice MOORE and know exactly where he was. He adorned our bench for eight years and then became a member of this great Court, as he loved to call it.

It was a great Court before he came here, and for 30 long years he helped to keep it great. You know, and others know, as well as I, how well he filled that position as Justice of this Court. We knew we had a friend in Court. He was gracious always and many times I have come into this Court and shortly after would come down a note from Justice MOORE to meet him in chambers at the recess. He never forgot those little courtesies which mean so much, and I simply say in closing that I never knew a more kindly, courteous man than our beloved Justice JOSEPH B. MOORE.

 Mr. THOMAS GUNSON spoke as follows:
Your Honors:
I deem it a privilege to be permitted, as a friend among the multitude of friends whose lives have been made brighter and sweeter because they have know the late Joseph B. MOORE, to add my brief tribute to his memory.

Justice MOORE loved to walk and talk with people and they considered themselves honored to have him talk to them. Some one has said that it is a comparatively easy thing for men in high positions in life to receive the plaudits and hurrahs of the crowd, but few win the love; Justice MOORE won the love. He has perpetuated his name to posterity because of the genuine affection he bore his fellow man which was constantly being reflected in kindly words and thoughtful and tender ministrations.

It is beyond any power to attempt to deliver a panegyric on the life and work of Justice MOORE, as a lawyer and member of this Court; but as he looks down upon us from his place amid the galaxy of men whose names and faces adorn the walls of this chamber, we who knew him so well and loved him so tenderly, are thrilled with pride as we note his outstanding distinction among this group of distinguished men.

We can testify that he was not ambitious for place and power; he did not desire money; for 40 years he occupied public office, and always with pure heart and hand discharged each public trust. In adversity and disappointment he was brave and uncomplaining; in success modest and unassuming. In some ways he was like a child, sincere and frank, and as full of hope as spring. At the last he was weary of life’s burdens and so, willingly and still trustingly, he laid them down.

If the following definition of success is a true one, then Justice MOORE’S life was eminently successful:
“He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much. Who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children. Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task. Who has left the world better than he found it, whether an improved flower, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul. Who has always looked for the best in others and has given the best he had. Whose life was an inspiration and whose memory a benediction.”

 Chief Justice WIEST spoke as follows:
Fourscore and five years ago, in the eighth year of the statehood of Michigan, Joseph B. MOORE was born at Commerce, Oakland county. He lived all his life in Michigan and died March 23, 1930.

There is pause this day while his former associates upon the bench and at the bar speak of his merits and attainments, express appreciation of his long public service, and recall his fellowship.

JOSEPH B. MOORE was educated in the old-time preparatory private school of parental precept and example, then in the public school, Hillsdale college, the university of Michigan, and a post-graduate course of threescore years as an advocate and an executive, legislative, and judicial officer. Sixty-one years ago this month he was admitted to the bar. He was prosecuting attorney for the county of Lapeer, mayor of the city of Lapeer, State senator, circuit judge, and Justice of this Court. He lived under the three State Constitutions and participated in the expansion and application of the law, commensurate with public and private needs. He was judge of the sixth circuit, comprised of the counties of Oakland and Lapeer, from January 1, 1888, to December 31, 1895, and a Justice of this Court from January 1, 1896, until he voluntarily retired, December 31, 1925, a period of exactly 30 years.

In his old age he was, by reason of legislation, enabled to lay aside judicial cares and depart the judgment seat with something more compensatory than a commendatory platitude or proverb.

His opinions, while a Justice of this Court, are in volumes 108 to 233, inclusive. A count of the opinions written by him, in the 126 volumes mentioned, will disclose that he wrote more opinions than any other Justice ever upon this bench, and this record has probably not been exceeded by any other judge of a court of last resort.

He was an interested listener to pointed elucidation, but was righteously impatient of mere time consumption or flights of fancy or attempted eloquence upon a subject foreign to judicial consideration. He was an agreeable and helpful associate, capable of grasping quickly controlling points and recalling applicable case precedents and statutory provisions. He was open to meritorious reasoning, but when, upon mature reflection, he reached a conclusion, he was as immovable as the rock of Gibraltar. This does not mean that he was always right in his conclusions; few Justices are, but disclosed the courage of his convictions. He sometimes dissented; this happens, and his power of expression and reasoning on such occasions also disclosed his ability.

He was a member of this Court when there were five Justices, and continued with the increase to eight. Thirteen of his former associates upon this bench preceded him to the great beyond.

I stood with him one day, looking out of a window in this building, at the trees putting on their annual beauty of leaf and blossom, and he said, “This is a beautiful world.” He wanted to live, not because he feared to die, but to witness the wonders he prophesied in the near future.

He was not of rugged physique, but had great mental power. The youth, rejected for military service in the Civil War for physical reasons, became a leader in the field of mental endeavor and attainments, and helped greatly to bring about the Michigan of which we are so justly proud.

He was well grounded in the law, was blessed with a good memory, intensely interested in the advancement of the legal profession, an active participant in world peace movements, an able jurist, and a valued judicial associate.

He has entered “The quiet haven of us all.”