Special Opening Ceremony Of The Michigan Supreme Court

OCTOBER 10, 2000

CHIEF JUSTICE WEAVER: Good morning to you all. We’re very happy to be continuing a relatively new tradition of the Court having its opening of its new term here in the Old Supreme Court Chambers. I’m happy to recognize that our former Chief Justice Riley is with us and if I’ve omitted anyone else, please forgive me. As part of the tradition, the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society always helps us open this session and it is my pleasure and privilege now to introduce Mr. Wallace D. Riley who is the president of the Society. Mr. Riley would you come forward. Oh, and I see that former Chief Justice Brennan has just arrived. Good morning to you.

 WALLACE D. RILEY: Madame Chief Justice and Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court assembled here today for the opening of Court for the 2000-2001 term, members of the bar in attendance, and ladies and gentlemen.
As the Chief has mentioned, for the past six years, the Court has graciously shared this annual opening session of the Court with the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society and has allowed us to present a brief ceremony to mark the occasion and to report to you on the work of the Society during the past Court year.

  • The Society continues to market and distribute the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Reference Guide, which is a book researched and written by our 1998 Coleman intern, and which contains brief biographies and portraits of Michigan’s first 100 Justices. The book remains one of our proudest achievements. It is available by mail through the Society and at the Michigan Historical Museum gift shop, and in Michigan law school bookstores throughout the state.
  • Other continuing publication efforts include our quarterly newsletter, the Society Update, the most recent issue of which, Fall 2000, has just been printed and is in you mail and is in fact in front of you. We call your attention to page one of the Update reporting that two of your former colleagues, former Chief Justices Dorothy Comstock Riley and Mary Stallings Coleman are honorees of the State Bar of Michigan. Chief Justice Riley received the Distinguished Public Service Award at the recent State Bar Annual Meeting and Chief Justice Coleman will have a Legal Milestone dedicated in her honor on Friday, October 20th in Battle Creek. The Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society will participate in the Legal Milestone ceremony. In addition, we are continuing our efforts on a brief general history of the Court, which was written by our 1999 Coleman intern Scott Noto. We hope to make this publication available to visitors to the Supreme Court as a handout.
  • In our modern-day, technically-savvy world, it is no longer enough just to have a website. During the past year we have continued to update and improve upon our website, www.micourthistory.org, so that it now offers a variety of information such as:
    • Biographies of all past and current Justices, accompanied by photographs or images of their court portraits;
    • The complete transcripts of all Special Sessions of the Court;
    • Full electronic versions of the Society’s quarterly newsletter beginning with the 1997 edition;
    • Membership and contact information, as well as information about our Coleman Internship Program;
    • Important links to other sites, including a reciprocal link with the Court;
    • We are still working to provide a searchable database as part of our on-line service, and we are continuing to add new information and improve the appearance and usefulness of this site.
  • As part of our maintenance of the historical portrait collection, the Society ordered and affixed new nameplates to replace those nameplates that were either missing or had been scratched or damaged. The portraits which hang in Lansing are complete for the most part and the new nameplates for the portraits in Detroit and elsewhere will soon be retagged. You will recall that the Society previously inventoried and catalogued all of the portraits by subject, artist, dates, and location. So the nameplate project is simply a reverification of those venues.
  • The DECADE IN REVIEW Traveling Exhibit will arrive at its last stop on its tour of Michigan law schools later this fall when it is set up for display at the newly formed Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor. The exhibit, which will have been displayed at all six Michigan law schools, will then begin a new tour that has yet to be determined, but it will be preserved for a stop at the new Hall of Justice when the structure is completed.
  • In cooperation with Michigan State University’s Vincent Voice Library, we are placing all of the oral histories that have been gathered to date on a comprehensive CD-rom and hope to provide portions of those interviews on our website. We continue our efforts to obtain the oral histories of those former members of the Court not yet interviewed.
  • While there were no portrait dedications during this past year, the Society has facilitated the establishment of Portrait Committees for Justices Boyle, Mallett, Brickley, and Chief Justice Weaver and we look forward to presenting portraits of Justices Boyle, Mallett and Brickley in the near future.
  • This year’s Annual Membership Luncheon, which many of you attended, was held at the Detroit Athletic Club and featured a record-breaking attendance of over 140 guests. The legal vignette, delivered by your former colleague, now Detroit Mayor, Dennis W. Archer, detailed the history of baseball’s reserve clause, and the 1914 case of Weegham v Killefer, which was decided in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Michigan sitting in Grand Rapids.

As you can see, the Society, now in its 12th year, has remained active in the pursuit of its goals of preserving documents, records and memorabilia relating to the Michigan Supreme Court and producing publications, special events and other projects to promote education and restoration.

In the coming year, we look forward to the development of an education program to assist both high school and junior high school teachers with lesson plans on the role and history of the Michigan Supreme Court. We are also looking ahead to our next Coleman Intern, and we are in the process of developing an adequate and interesting research topic for that individual. We are pursuing further exhibit opportunities both for our YEAR IN REVIEW exhibit and other potential displays. The website remains an area of focus for the Society and we plan to continue to improve upon it.

Before closing, allow me to introduce you to the members of our Board of Directors who are here today. You’ve already met Thomas E. Brennan, George E. Bushnell, Jr., R. Stuart Hoffius, John Lawrence Nolan, Roger Lane, Tom McNish, Charles Rutherford, Frank Kelley, and our honorary chairperson of the Society, Dorothy Comstock Riley. I also present to the Court so that you might be familiar with her, our new executive director, Angela Bergman.
If you look at that issue that is in front of you, you may have noticed that the cover and the inside of the Fall 2000 issue of the Society Update contains all three women Chief Justices. On the second page we feature the outgoing/incoming women Executive Directors. If you count them up, that’s five. I submit that’s ample evidence that the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society is not just a guy thing!

We shall continue with our efforts to please the Court – Thank you.

CHIEF JUSTICE WEAVER: Thank you Mr. Riley. On behalf of all my colleagues, the Court is so grateful for the work of the Society and the very important and valuable activities of the Society and we all from the bottom of our hearts thank you for your work, which is all volunteer work. I know that you members of the Society wish to have a meeting, and so we will take a very short recess in order that everybody may go about their business, and this will give our attorneys a chance to get ready. So, we’re going to remain on the bench, but we’ll have a short recess.