Presentation of the Portrait of the Hon. Conrad L. Mallett, Jr.



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April 25, 2012

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERT P. YOUNG, JR.: Good afternoon and welcome. As Chief Justice MALLETT knows, not every one of the chief justice’s responsibilities is felicitous, but this is one of them. We get to preside over what I’m sure is going to be a wonderful ceremony that we sometimes call the hanging. But it’s my pleasure to welcome you all to this occasion, on behalf of each of my colleagues on the Court, to receive the portrait of former Chief Justice CONRAD L. MALLETT, JR. And we particularly welcome his friends and his family, and I see his wife [Denise Mallett] here, I believe. And we don’t often have best-dressed people visit us, but she’s one of them and was honored as such in [Hour Detroit] magazine recently. And we see, obviously, Governor James Blanchard and his wife Janet. Welcome here all of you. These proceedings are being taped for later broadcast by Michigan Government TV, and, in addition, will be memorialized in a volume of Michigan Reports.
Now many of you know that in 1999, some of you dread it, but some celebrate—fewer—I succeeded Justice MALLETT when he resigned to accept a position with the Detroit Medical Center as Senior Vice President and General Counsel, later becoming President of Sinai-Grace. However, before he departed in 1999, he made national news by becoming the first African-American Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. And as chief he took very seriously the administration of the state court system. And some of the goals he pursued have been realized such as this magnificent Hall of Justice that we, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, are so happy to be temporary residents in. And what this did was brought together in one building many of the disparate parts of our family including the [State] Court Administrative Office.
In addition, under Chief Justice MALLETT’s watch the Court oversaw the organization of the family court and adopted Supreme Court Administrative Order 1997-10,[ ] through which this Court for the first time bound itself to make public a wide variety of financial and administrative information about the Court and our State [Court] Administrative Office. He had other goals that we continue to pursue such as streamlining the operations of our trial courts to achieve greater efficiency and better public service.
With that I won’t take any thunder from the rest of the speakers and I will welcome the first speaker, Wallace D. Riley, President of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, to tell us about their work on preserving and commissioning Justices’ portraits. Wally.
MR. WALLACE D. RILEY: Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice. Mr. Chief Justice, the associate justices here today, Justice MALLETT, distinguished judges who are in attendance, and the Mallett family and friends. It’s a pleasure for me, on behalf of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, to welcome you and to thank the Court for the opportunity to appear here and to participate in this special session of the Court. It is a special session. It is being recorded. It will appear in the Michigan Reports.
Many of you here today are familiar with the work of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society because you’re members of the society. And for those of you who are not members or who are not familiar with the society, allow me to say that we were organized in 1988 with the mission to preserve documents, records, and memorabilia of the Michigan Supreme Court and to promote public education and awareness of the historical significance of our Supreme Court. The historic portrait collection has always been figured prominently in the work of the society.
In fact, the care of these artifacts was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the society. DOROTHY COMSTOCK RILEY, when she was then Chief Justice, recognized that the portraits were not being properly cared for or properly displayed and she decided to do something about it. So she formed and founded the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society. The society gathers all of the portraits; we catalogue them; we’ve repaired many of them; we’ve commissioned portraits for the justices we didn’t have portraits of who were still living, and we now have a total of 88 portraits of former justices of the Supreme Court, which are hanging in this building and in buildings throughout the court system, in our collection. And in the same 24 years since our founding, we have participated in, 18 now, presentations like this one today where we present the portraits.
For nearly 25 years now, the society has been privileged to be involved in events such as the one today honoring Chief Justice MALLETT. We’re happy to be here again. We thank the Court for allowing us to participate, and we thank the Court for its continuing support, and we offer our congratulations to Chief Justice MALLETT.
CHIEF JUSTICE YOUNG: Thank you. We now move to the part of the program where we recognize and recall the many accomplishments of Chief Justice MALLETT. And first in line to do that is former Governor Dorian Gray—I mean Jim Blanchard. [Laughter.]
GOVERNOR JAMES J. BLANCHARD: I love it. Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Michigan Supreme Court, ladies and gentlemen, most especially CONRAD MALLETT, JR. I feel better than my voice indicates so I hope not to get—I’m a recovering politician and I’m recovering from a bad cold. Now let me just say, I’m delighted to be here. I will be brief. I took lessons from Joe Biden so it will only be about 45 minutes. [Laughter.]
It’s hard to believe that it’s 30 years ago when young attorney CONRAD MALLETT, JR., escorted me and our team all around Detroit and all around our state in what turned out to be a successful campaign for Governor. In fact, many members of our team—you see, of course, Janet Blanchard—but many members of our team are here today, and I’m not going to name them, but it was a wonderful time. We had a ball as you recall Mr. Justice—Mr. former Chief Justice. It was an exciting time. You’ve always been a part of our team, a part of our state, and part of our hearts.
It’s interesting, one of the things that’s really unknown, really unappreciated, is that while judges are elected in Michigan, if there’s a vacancy the Governor gets to appoint them. And during my time of eight years, we were able to appoint 160 judges including 3 to the Michigan Supreme Court. And, of course, it was a delight to appoint CONRAD MALLETT, JR. to the bench, which at the time was unexpected for a lot of different reasons. In fact, many people wanted the appointment and they were qualified. Some even held rallies as I recall, but common sense prevailed and Conrad was my appointment.
And it was a real pleasure to appoint him. And let me give you an aside as to why it was especially, I think, appropriate. Recently, I served on a commission to develop a program to improve our national parks. It’s a small group chaired by Howard Baker, and on that commission was former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. And she used to sit there and talk to people like me and others and say, “You’ve gotta make sure the President appoints people to the U.S. Supreme Court that have practical experience, that have done something other than be law review, clerk for a judge, a law school, major firm, and then a judge.” And she, of course, looked back on her days not only on the Arizona Supreme Court, but she’d been a state senator, she’d been a senate majority leader, she’d helped her family run a major business, she really, and to this day truly, believes that people on the bench—and we have some examples here today—must have a varied experience when they start interpreting the laws and make sure that they understand the consequences, the real-world consequences, of what they do. Sure, we believe in the common law and the Constitution, but how it works is, of course, quite another matter. And that’s important—a living breathing document.
And the nice thing about CONRAD MALLETT, JR. was when he became a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court, CONRAD MALLETT, JR.—as some call him young MALLETT—I’m gonna call him Mr. Chief Justice MALLETT, he had already worked as an advisor to the mayor of Detroit, he’d already worked in two major law firms, he’d already worked for a U.S. Congressman in Washington. He had served as the Governor’s legal advisor, and also a lobbyist with the Legislature during a very deep financial crisis, and then some. He had, in a sense, he had worked hard with the people who make laws, who write laws, and who execute the laws. It was a perfect combination. And Conrad you served with great distinction. I might also add, thank you for continuing to serve our state both in terms of the finances of one of our major cities and the healthcare for all of our people. We thank you. Congratulations on this wonderful day. And Mr. Chief Justice and members of the Court thank you for letting me speak. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
CHIEF JUSTICE YOUNG: Thank you. I didn’t think I’d have to remind a group as august as this, but if your phone is on, I’d like you to put it on stun now. And now I’m pleased to call to the podium Ms. Janet Welch, who is the Executive Director of the State Bar of Michigan. I can’t think of anything funny to say about Janet, she’s really very effective. I’m working on you Alex [Parrish], however.
MS. JANET WELCH: Chief Justice YOUNG, justices of the Court, Justice MALLETT, the Mallett family, distinguished guests, I’m honored by the invitation to speak on this occasion. I am acutely aware that unlike the other speakers today, illustrious in their own right, I’m contributing the viewpoint of someone whose relationship to the subject of today’s proceeding was one of subservience and I am eager to share that perspective.
The invitation to speak has allowed me to revisit an exceptional period of my own personal history. It was largely defined by an exceptional and unforgettable human being. That period began for me in an abrupt and dramatic way, and it is worth describing that event briefly because of what it reveals about CONRAD MALLETT, JR.
It’s important to know first that at least during the dozen years that I was employed at the Supreme Court, the period leading up to the election of a new chief justice was an anxious time, especially so, as was the case at the end of 1996, when the current chief justice is not in the running. Despite the fact that the changeover rarely has had any, if any, staffing impact, even veteran Supreme Court staff can’t help but fret just a little about their job security and the quality of their work life when a change in the chief justice is imminent. That anxiety about the changeover is most acute for the handful of people who work in the office of the chief justice.
In addition to that source of anxiety, the waning months of 1996 were, to put it mildly, an unsettled time for Michigan’s judiciary. The task of modernizing Michigan’s trial court system had been expressly engaged a few years before by Chief Justice DOROTHY COMSTOCK RILEY’s twenty-first century courts initiative commission and advanced by Chief Justice MICHAEL CAVANAGH’s Charting the Course initiative and demonstration court projects during his tenure as chief.
It had been outgoing Chief Justice Jim BRICKLEY’s fate to preside over the politics of court reform while the Court was deciding the Grand Traverse case[ ]—a case in which the Court ultimately declined the tempting invitation of the Michigan Association of Counties to fully shift the burden of trial court funding from counties and cities to the state. That decision was just over a year old as 1996 drew to a close. To be sure, state funding would have simplified the challenge that the Supreme Court had explicitly taken on to make Michigan’s trial court system more efficient, cohesive, and accountable. In fact, state court funding was almost certainly a policy preference of the justices, but in a principled unanimous decision they denied themselves the authority to dictate state funding. That was the right thing to do, but it did not win the Court any points in Lansing—even with the Legislature to whom they were deferring. In the aftermath of the Grand Traverse decision, the Legislature; the circuit, probate, and district judges; the counties; the county clerks; and the state bar all became even more entrenched in incompatible positions and more insistent about their demands.
To make matters more complicated, during this period, the state court administrator, who was also chief of staff to the chief justice, had suffered disabling injuries that were soon to result in her retirement. As the governmental relations analyst in the Office of the Chief Justice, I found myself at the center of these challenges. I got the news that Justice MALLETT would be the new chief justice while vacationing up north with my family. My first thought on getting the news was I hardly know anything about him. And my second, more alarming, thought was: and he hardly knows anything about me. [Laughter.] And that was more or less pretty much all that was going on in my head all the way on the trip home to Lansing until the moment when my husband, who was driving, suffered a massive seizure and lost consciousness.
And so it came to pass that a day later, on a Sunday night the day before I should have been preparing for my first day working for the new chief justice, I found myself writing him a message from my husband’s hospital bedside. I explained that I was eager to serve in the Office of Chief Justice under his command in whatever capacity he saw fit to use me, that I offered him the very best I knew how to give without reservation, but at the moment my husband was in a coma and the doctors did not have a clue what was going on.
It would have been easy, probably even prudent, for the new chief justice—the youngest member of the Court and the next to lowest in seniority, faced with some really intractable problems—to take a wait and see approach to my message. That’s almost certainly what I would have done, probably a short prompt note of sympathy and encouragement with no commitment, but that’s not what happened. Instead, I got a call at the hospital from the new chief justice telling me that he considered me an indispensable part of the team he was assembling, that I should pick a title, take care of my family, and get back to work as soon as I could but not a moment sooner than I should. With that conversation I went from knowing next to nothing about CONRAD MALLETT, JR., to knowing one of the most important things about him—the size of his heart.
So what happened next? There were brush fires burning all across the court reform landscape. At some point in the months that followed, as we were getting to know one another, Chief Justice MALLETT and I discovered that we were both fans of the writer Walter Mosley. Mosely’s character, Easy Rawlins, says in one of his novels, “You step out your door in the morning and you’re already in trouble. The only question is, are you on top of the trouble or not.”[ ] It soon became apparent the new chief justice was definitely on top of the trouble. And he went about the task of putting out the brush fires immediately and methodically. The pace was breathless. My colleague Anne Vrooman, recruited from the State Court Administrative Office to the Office of the Chief Justice, perfectly captured the moment. Coming into my office one day after we had just received our latest marching orders from the chief, she said, “We’d better make sure the high beams are on because he’s driving awfully fast.” [Laughter.]
The times required CONRAD MALLETT, JR.’s public policy training and experience and especially his ability to motivate, persuade, charm, and inspire. As my colleague then and now Nkrumah Johnson-Wynn says, when CONRAD MALLETT believes something, he believes it with his whole being. A week later, upon more facts and more reflection, he might believe something slightly different, but he believes that too with this whole being, [laughter] and so too most likely do you believe it if you are in his vicinity.
As is true of the most effective and dynamic leaders, CONRAD MALLETT’s open-mindedness and ability to pivot while moving forward were important and impressive compliments to his determination and conviction. What CONRAD MALLETT introduced most effectively into the conversation about court reform in Michigan was the vision of shared responsibility, cooperation, and accountability for the business of safeguarding and advancing justice. It was a vision powered by his determination, political savvy, and relentless energy that broke the back of a costly and paralyzing power struggle between the courts and funding units and within the judiciary itself. His was an affirming and positive spirit, rejecting the intransigence of those who opposed all efforts at reform. He would insist you have to be for something, you can’t just be against change. With Chief Justice MALLETT in charge, change did come and at an unprecedented speed.
I can’t claim, of course, that CONRAD MALLETT solved all the problems of Michigan’s judicial system during his two-year tenure as Chief Justice. A generous man, he did leave a few things to future chief justices, including this one, to dig into, but he laid a foundation critical for the modernization of our state court system. The evidence of the magnitude and importance of the breakthrough he engineered can be seen in the titles of seven—yes, seven—major administrative orders adopted by the Court just in the first year of his tenure, two of which you’ve already heard about. Administrative Order 1997-1,[ ] implementing the family division of the circuit court; 1997-6,[ ] on resolving disputes between courts and funding units; 1997-7,[ ] establishing the Child Support Coordinating Council; 1997-8,[ ] establishing court data standards; 1997-10,[ ] the judicial branch’s freedom of information procedures; 1997-11,[ ] the judicial branch’s open-meetings procedures; and 1997-12,[ ] authorizing consolidating courts pilot projects.
And, as if this were not enough of a legacy, you have already heard about this magnificent building. Governor John Engler said it best at the dedication of the Hall of Justice. He said CONRAD MALLETT made legislative approval a personal crusade, meeting at the critical time with every member of the Legislature who had a concern or question about the Hall of Justice and its funding. For those of us lucky enough to be working for the Court at this time, it was an exciting and exhilarating time. For me, to paraphrase Detroit’s own Grace Boggs, it was also a soul-growing time.
Throughout this period my husband, last seen in this narrative in a coma, was being treated for what was eventually diagnosed as a grade III malignant brain tumor. His recovery from that bleak diagnosis has been as remarkable as the two-year whirlwind of achievements orchestrated by CONRAD MALLETT during his tenure as chief justice. I am grateful beyond words for this opportunity to tell Justice MALLETT what his faith in me meant to me and how proud I am to have been allowed to play a part in his remarkable legacy. [Applause.]
CHIEF JUSTICE YOUNG: Our next speaker is Mr. Alex Parrish, senior partner in the law firm of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn.
MR. ALEX PARRISH: Thank you Chief Justice and members of the Court. Ladies and gentlemen, former chief justice, I’m delighted to be here to have a little time to talk about my dear friend and colleague CONRAD MALLETT, JR. And I’m also pleased to be here for the unveiling of another portrait by the great painter Simmie Knox. See Conrad, ten years ago I served as cochairman of the portrait committee for appeals judge Damon J. Keith, and his portrait now hangs in the federal courthouses in Detroit and in Cincinnati. And like Thurgood Marshall and now CONRAD MALLETT, JR., his portrait was also painted by Mr. Simmie Knox.
Former Chief Justice MALLETT and I have known each other since I moved to Detroit 28 years ago. We’ve been neighbors, we are fraternity brothers, our wives know each other, we’ve worked together on many, many community projects, but I know Chief Justice MALLETT best as a distinguished member of our legal profession and also as a business leader. We started out as contemporaries at large law firms in Detroit—me at Honigman and Conrad at Miller Canfield and then Jaffe Raitt. I think we got to know each other well when we had just made partner in our respective firms and we were [among] the few minorities in the profession at that rank—far outranked by then—by now Chief Justice YOUNG. [Laughter.]
CHIEF JUSTICE YOUNG: I’m just older. [Laughter.]
MR. PARRISH: Rising from associate to partner we were occasional legal adversaries, but more often we were supporters of each other’s careers. And we shared similar objectives regarding improving our profession particularly with regard to diversity in the profession in terms of increasing the numbers of minorities and women who practice law in our law firms and in our corporations. Later on, we happened to serve together as cocounsel on some cases, and then I actually worked with Conrad for a year as outside counsel when he was general counsel of a client of ours.
So I’ve known the guy a long time, and sometimes when you know people for a long time in many different capacities and circumstances, the truth is, the regard you have for that person can change. Sometimes it doesn’t hold up; sometimes it diminishes or narrows. And what they say about familiarity—I don’t know if it breeds contempt necessarily, but sometimes it breeds, you know, I’m not so impressed anymore. [Laughter.] Well, that’s completely untrue about my good friend CONRAD MALLETT.
From the start, I knew he was a smart, energetic, compassionate human being; then later on, I learned that he’s also extremely courageous. And I’m afraid he’s also brutally honest. Believe me, don’t ask this man a question if you can’t handle the honest feedback. [Laughter.] That’s one of his most endearing qualities. But I think that kind of honesty is really a virtue, and I’m glad that the current Governor apparently sees that too when it comes to CONRAD MALLETT. No, my long years of knowing Conrad have not diminished my esteem for the man one iota.
In fact, over the years I’ve actually come to the conclusion that Conrad’s one of those rare people who can do any job in the world not just capably but exceptionally. You see most of us are outstanding in maybe two or three things, you know, if you’re lucky—you know lawyer, husband, and father. But not Conrad, he’s—as the Governor mentioned, he’s an excellent advisor. He’s an excellent strategist, he’s an excellent senior government executive, excellent campaign manager, excellent advocate, excellent business executive, and he was truly an excellent jurist. And I have it on good authority, Denise, that he’s a heck of a husband and father too. So I’m not kidding; I truly believe Conrad can do just about anything well—not only well, but exceptionally.
And we should have learned that when Governor Blanchard appointed CONRAD MALLETT to the bench in 1990. I was new to town, but I remember a lot of the criticism back then. I heard that Conrad had no judicial experience, that he had never argued a case before the Supreme Court, that he was too political—but gee, that’s true of me, all that except for the political part—but it didn’t take long for the critics to be silenced. As Conrad went on to establish himself as one of the most respected jurists in the state of Michigan—elected twice by the citizens of Michigan and eventually, in 1997, selected by his peers as the Chief Justice of the state of Michigan.
And what else has he done in an excellent manner besides successfully practicing law and presiding on the bench? Well, he’s now one of our great corporate executives in Detroit. He’s run one of the most significant hospital organizations in Michigan before his most recent promotion at the DMC. He’s a director on the boards of two of our most important corporations in Michigan—both Fortune 500 companies. And, as of late, as Governor Blanchard mentioned, Governor Snyder has called upon him to play a critical role in the necessary financial restructuring of our largest city, Detroit. So I am convinced that Conrad can do just about anything and do it well. And we, the citizens of Michigan, were extremely lucky to have eight years of Conrad’s life as a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. I think that may have been the longest time he served in any one place. [Laughter.] Well, he did a marvelous job serving on the Court, and it’s only right, proper, and fitting that we take this opportunity this afternoon to thank Conrad—to formally recognize and thank him for that great service. And I want to thank you, Chief Justice CONRAD MALLETT. [Applause.]
CHIEF JUSTICE YOUNG: Thank you Alex for that left-handed comment about my age. He’s now a titan in the city, but I want you to know that he’s not even the best lawyer in his own household. [Laughter.] And now the final speaker before the portrait is presented, Mr. Michael Duggan, who is the President and CEO of the Detroit Medical Center.
MR. MICHAEL DUGGAN: Thank you Mr. Chief Justice and members of the Court and to Justice MALLETT’s friends and family. I get a chance to come speak from the perspective of a friend. And Conrad and I have been friends since the mid-1980s when he was the deputy mayor to Coleman Young and I was the deputy county executive to Ed McNamara, and our lives have been intertwined at several different points. And I don’t know that we ever thought we’d end up together in the hospital business, but there has been a force behind it.
But in 1990 as Governor Blanchard left office and appointed CONRAD MALLETT justice, as Alex mentioned, there was a fair amount of criticism. I think it was Brooks Patterson who called him Blanchard’s revenge, [laughter] midnight appointments, and there was an assumption that he was going to get clobbered in the next election. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion except people forgot that you have a very smart, hardworking person.
And Justice MALLETT confounded everybody—he didn’t become a predictable vote on either side. He looked at each issue, he wrote brilliant opinions, and when the election rolled around we had a case to make. Except we had a problem. The Republicans nominated Mike TALBOT right out of central casting: longstanding judge, great law and order credentials; we couldn’t have had a tougher opponent, and we really didn’t know how we were gonna win. But Conrad was smarter—“Go get Rick [Wiener]. We need him to run the campaign,” and asked me to do the media. But as Judge TALBOT rolled along, we got further and further behind and Julie Dade, Conrad’s friend, would end every campaign meeting, no matter how bad the meeting went, by saying, “You haven’t finished your ballot until you vote for MALLETT.” [Laughter.] And we’d roll our eyes and say, “Julie, that is so corny—stop saying that.”
It got to be about eight weeks out; we were getting beat pretty good. We had enough money for about 10 days of TV, and Rick and I sat down and said if we go on TV for 10 days we don’t have a chance. On the other hand, we read through his opinions, and they were brilliant. We looked at the cases where he was the deciding vote in a 4-3 case. There was one where a worker would have lost his right to sue for a serious injury, and Justice MALLETT cast the deciding vote with the Democrats. The next month there was a case where somebody was convicted of child abuse of an infant and was going to be set free, and Justice MALLETT voted with the Republicans to uphold the conviction. And as Rick and I looked at this we said what if we forget about criticizing TALBOT. What if we run ads for the next six weeks on the radio and explain what kind of justice he’s been. And as we kicked it around, Rick says, “That’s all good except we’ve got a problem: we’re way behind on name ID and without TV, how are we gonna do it?” I said, “Rick there’s only one way we’re gonna get people to remember it.” And he said, “Oh no, we can’t tell Conrad.” [Laughter.] So we convinced Conrad to forget the TV and go on the radio, but we don’t tell him what the ad’s going to say. And I remember to this day when he heard the ad for the first time—with you haven’t finished your ballot til you vote for MALLETT—he calls me up and he says, “I am a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court with all the dignity attached thereto and I’m running a campaign based on a jingle that sounds like it was written by a preschooler! What are you doing?” I said, “Well Conrad, it’s too late the ads are already bought.” [Laughter.]
With about three weeks to go there was a major TV debate at which everybody assumed that Judge TALBOT, with his experience, would wipe the floor with the young justice, and, in fact, it was a very memorable debate because just the opposite happened. CONRAD MALLETT impressed everybody with his intellect and his debating skills, and the buzz in the whole campaign started to turn. But I will never forget with one week to go he calls me from his cell phone—a conversation I can remember—he says, “Mike, I’m gonna win.” I said, “How do you know that?” He says, “I was just at a rally with Bill Clinton”—it was the ’92 presidential, 5,000 people there. Because Conrad was on the ticket, they let him speak for five minutes. So Conrad gets up in front of the crowd of 5,000, with the president-to-be standing behind him, and Conrad says, “You haven’t finished your ballot”—5,000 people roared back—“until you vote for MALLETT.” [Laughter.] He says Clinton said it was the greatest thing he ever heard. [Laughter.] And, of course, Conrad did, in fact, pull a major upset. In the next cycle, he came back and won easily and was unanimously elected by his colleagues as Chief Justice, validating the fact that Governor Blanchard made a very wise choice in that original appointment.
But it’s been a fun ride, and we have been blessed that after a career on the Supreme Court that would have been enough for most people, he came down and provided yet another career to the people of the city of Detroit. And another place where he went in and was criticized for not having experience and took a hospital on the west side of Detroit, with 2,000 employees that was about to close, and he turned it around and saved it for that community. And it’s just the same thing he’s been doing over and over his entire life. So if you know Conrad, you know that he’s brilliant, he’s honest, somewhat opinionated, [laughter] but above all else he’s a true friend. I’m glad to be here today. [Applause.]
CHIEF JUSTICE YOUNG: We will now have the portrait presentation by artist Simmie Knox. Mr. Knox will do the unveiling. [Portrait is unveiled.] [Applause.] It’s amazing what you can do with paint. [Laughter.] At our last portrait dedication, which was for former Chief Justice Cliff TAYLOR, some of us were joking that these occasions were sort of like wakes except the body was not only present but expected to speak. [Laughter.] And in this case, as in Cliff’s, the body is here, and we look forward to hearing what it has to say. I want to say personally that I’ve always been deeply envious because not much rhymes with YOUNG that is worth advertising. [Laughter.] Chief Justice CONRAD MALLETT, JR. [Applause.]
JUSTICE MALLET: Mr. Chief Justice, I always wanted to say this, may it please the Court, [laughter] and to all my friends here. I want to thank Mr. Wally Riley of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, my family, and all of my friends gathering here today. Governor Blanchard, Janet, Mike, Alex, thank you. I want to especially thank my wife, Denise; my daughters, Kristan and Lauren; my godmother and my Aunt, Nora; my mother’s baby sister, my Aunt Jackie; my cousin Leslie; my wife’s Aunt Debra for helping make this great day very, very special. I want to thank all of my friends for gathering here today and many people gathered here are from the DMC and many of them are from the greatest hospital in southeastern Michigan, Sinai-Grace. Can I have my Sinai-Grace people stand up who are here? [Applause.]
And I want to thank the Court as well. I know this day is really only special to the presenters. I myself remember saying to my colleagues, I was always joking and getting in trouble with Mike CAVANAGH, my God, did you see how many people are on the speakers list—this is gonna go on all day. [Laughter.] But in this case I chose wisely, I chose as short as I could, only four. Michael and I have seen other people do it much longer, so I appreciate your patience.
I’m very proud actually at what I’d been able to do on the Supreme Court, and I’m proud that during my time the Court got a couple of things done that frankly still remain today.
I’m more proud of the men and women with whom I served. Justice RILEY, on my first day, and Wally greeted me with warmth and enthusiasm that I had not expected nor had I earned. Justice [PATRICIA] BOYLE and Justice [CHARLES] LEVIN spent hours tutoring me on the intricacies and fine points of criminal law. And I was privileged, as most of the Court was, to listen to some of the greatest criminal law academic arguments between two of the greatest academic legal minds that the Michigan Supreme Court has ever known. And that’s not something that I say, that’s something that is said by the people who disagreed with almost everything that each of them, respectively, wrote. I remember with great fondness the great judge, Justice BRICKLEY. His common sense and uncommon humanity made the Court better. His deep sense of fair play and his long prior history of prior public service caused me especially to pay attention to the things that he said and the things that he wrote. For many reasons, when I was on the Court I felt a special kinship to Justice CAVANAGH. My father was one of his brother Jerry [Cavanagh]’s first mayoral appointments, and I was pleased with him to share a really brief moment in Detroit’s history in our own little small version of Camelot. I was privileged to watch Justice CAVANAGH and Justice RILEY serve as chief, and I modeled my tenure, quite frankly, after theirs. I served with Justice [MARILYN] KELLY, Justice TAYLOR, Justice [ELIZABETH] WEAVER. Justice KELLY is here today, and I’m honored by her presence. All three of these Court members, two of them former, are my friends whose work on the Court I respect, whose work on behalf of the people of the state of Michigan has always been honorable. I am pleased to count them as colleagues.
God has blessed me many, many, many times over. My time on the Court was a heaven-sent gift for which I will always be grateful. And I want to thank all of you for your gift of friendship, of your time today, and for your attention. For all of that, for this day, I am grateful. Chief Justice thank you. [Applause.]
CHIEF JUSTICE YOUNG: Thank you very much. On behalf of the Michigan Supreme Court I am pleased to accept this portrait of Chief Justice MALLETT. Alexis de Tocqueville once said that history is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies. Today the Supreme Court adds a true original to the gallery, not only the artwork but the Justice it depicts. Thank you very much. We are adjourned.