Special Opening Ceremony Of The Michigan Supreme Court

OCTOBER 12, 1999

MR. WALLACE D. RILEY: On October 10, 1995, we began what is becoming a tradition of hearing the first argument of the term in these chambers. This court has graciously shared this annual event with the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society by allowing us a brief ceremony to mark the occasion and to report to you on the work of the Society in the past year.

Perhaps the most significant accomplishment of the Society this past year was the publication of a first-of-its-kind booklet, the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Reference Guide, in which each of Michigan’s first 100 justices, from the period 1805 to 1998, is biographically profiled. It also contains, for the first time, a chart of members of the court, year by year.

Over 200 copies are already in circulation. It’s available from the Society. It’s available at the Michigan Historical Museum gift shop and in Michigan law school bookstores. Secondly, our publication efforts are continuing and include the quarterly newsletter, the Society Update, the Fall 1999 copy of which is in your mail.

Like any other present-day organization, we are on-line with our new, worldwide web site, www.micourthistory.org. It is a visually appealing, easy to navigate format, and contains biographies of all past and current justices accompanied by photographs or images of their corresponding court portraits, wherever applicable. It contains a complete transcript of all the special sessions of the court, beginning with the 1857 court’s memorializing of the territorial judges, those who served from 1805 to 1837. There are full electronic versions of the Society’s quarterly newsletter, starting with the first 1997 edition.

There’s information about the Coleman internship, membership, and contact information, and there are important links to other sites including a reciprocal link with the court. In the coming year, the Society will continue to expand its web site, adding more historical information such as textable (sic) court cases, and adding a searchable database.

We’ve continued, for the second year, with the Creighton S. Coleman internship. Mr. Scott Noto, an honors graduate student from the University of Chicago, has completed his manuscript entitled, A Survey of Michigan Supreme Court History. The Society plans to publish the manuscript in booklet format, and to make it available to visitors to the court and to other interested persons.

As usual, we performed our annual survey of the historical portraits collection. We located a portrait that was previously missing. The portrait of Justice Isaac Christiancy, one of the large and special big four portraits that hang in your main lobby was repaired and re-hung. Some portraits, we discovered, had missing identifications, and we’ve ordered new brass nameplates to be affixed to them.

The Decade in Review, our traveling exhibit, is spending three months at all five Michigan law schools. It is currently at the University of Michigan Law School, with its next and final stop at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School. Last spring, we presented to the court the portrait of Justice Charles L. Levin at a special session of the court held in Detroit. We facilitated the establishment of portrait committees for recently retired Justices Boyle, Mallett, and Brickley and we look forward to presenting their respective portraits to the court in the next century.

Earlier this year, we assisted with the investiture ceremony of Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., in Detroit. This year’s annual luncheon of the Society was held at the Kent Country Club in Grand Rapids. About a hundred of our members and the court heard former Justice, Judge James L. Ryan, present the legal vignette on the life and times of Thomas M. Cooley.
I’d like to ask the members of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society Board to rise and be recognized. Thank you. These board members are very helpful to the work of the Society. We meet three times a year and it’s through their efforts that we are able to accomplish the things that I’ve indicated to you.

As you can see, we’ve had another busy year of activity at the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society.