Special Opening Ceremony Of The Michigan Supreme Court

OCTOBER 14, 2003

CHIEF JUSTICE CORRIGAN: Good morning, and welcome to the Opening of the October term, 2003. At the outset this morning, I would like to welcome Mr. Wallace D. Riley who will be giving a report on behalf of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society. The Court thanks the Society for its support of all the Court’s history and our efforts and I note that we are celebrating one year and one week of our new Hall of Justice.

So, we thank the Society for all the help that you provided to us in the Hall of Justice. I’m very pleased to state that the Learning Center of the Hall of Justice has received an award for its outstanding efforts with regard to education and perhaps Mr. Riley will be reporting that. In any event, I welcome you this morning and thank you on behalf of the Court.

 WALLACE D. RILEY: Thank you Madame Chief Justice, Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court who are assembled here today for the opening of the Court’s 2003-2004 term, Society board members who are present, members of the bar in attendance, ladies and gentlemen.

For the past nine years, the Court has graciously shared the Annual Opening Session with the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society and has allowed us a brief ceremony to mark the occasion and to report to you on the work of the Society for the past year.

2003 was a moving (literally) and monumental year for the Court; it was an equally busy year for the Society.

  • The 2003 Coleman Intern completed the Women and the Law project, which is featured in the Fall issue of The Society Update .The PowerPoint presentation and web pages developed by our intern highlight 19 Michigan women who stand out as champions of Michigan citizens, who were trendsetters in the law, who were “firsts” in their field, and who are role models for aspiring young women.
  • Over the past year, we added several new pages to our website, including: a speeches and vignettes page, which allows visitors to read the remarks of former Annual Luncheon speakers; an oral history page, which allows visitors to hear and read all of the oral histories previously gathered by the Society; a publications page that allows visitors to order a hard copy of any Society publication or to read the text of the publications online; and an updated donations page that allows visitors to contribute to the general society fund, to portrait funds, or to the Learning Center. We continue to work to keep our website, www.micourthistory.org, updated and full of useful information. The website has truly become one of our “crown jewels” and we are proud of the vast amount of easily accessible information it contains.
  • As part of our maintenance of the historical portrait collection, the Society caused the move of all of the portraits from various Lansing locations to the Hall of Justice. All of the portraits now hang in either the Hall of Justice or the Detroit offices of the Michigan Supreme Court.
  • You will recall that in January of this year, in a memorable and moving ceremony, we dedicated the portrait of former Chief Justice James H. Brickley in the new Supreme Court chambers in the new Hall of Justice.
  • The Society celebrated its 15th anniversary at this year’s Annual Membership Luncheon held on April 24th in Detroit. Justices Markman and Kelly spoke on behalf of the Court and we presented the second Legal History Award to former Chief Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley.
  • We continue to oversee and manage the Learning Center Fund and to accept donations on behalf of the Center.
  • With the help of former Michigan Supreme Court justice and Society board member Judge James L. Ryan, the Society is working to complete a second project begun by the Coleman Intern, which will select and summarize the most important cases in Michigan Supreme Court history.
  • In cooperation with Western Michigan University, the Society established the Big Four Writing and Research Fellowship. The fellowship is designed to foster academic research on the history of the Supreme Court of Michigan and disseminate the results of such research. This year’s fellow, Coreen Derifield began her work in September and will soon select a research topic.
  • The Society continues to focus on the distribution of its various publications, including the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Reference Guide, the Brief History of the Michigan Supreme Court booklet, and the quarterly newsletter The Society Update.

We’re very proud of the work of the Society and continue to strive to fulfill our mission: to preserve documents, records and memorabilia relating to the Michigan Supreme Court, and to produce publications, special events and other projects to achieve our goals in education and restoration. We have recently been contacted by the states of Iowa and Arkansas, which are working to set up their own state Supreme Court Historical Societies. They contacted us because, and I quote, “Your state appears to be have one of the best organizations of its kind.” Certainly, we could not have achieved this reputation without the cooperation and on-going support of the justices of this Court – for that we thank you.

It is noteworthy that we still enjoy the inspiration and guidance of our Honorary Chair and your former colleague, Chief Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley, who attends all of our board meetings and is here today. For fifteen years she has truly been “the wind beneath our wings” – sometimes a hurricane force of motivation, but always a gentle breeze setting and steadying our course.

Before I conclude, allow me to present to you the members of our Board of Directors who are here today. I ask them to rise and let you recognize them. Ladies and gentlemen.

CHIEF JUSTICE CORRIGAN: Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Riley, and a special welcome to Honorary Chair Dorothy Comstock Riley and thank you, Chief Justice Riley, for everything that you have done on our behalf in the last year. I think it would be of interest to the Society’s Board to know that we have entertained more than 30,000 visitors to our new Hall of Justice and especially to you, Chief Justice Riley, for your inspirational leadership in bringing about that beautiful facility. We thank you so much and knowing that 30,000 people have visited shows especially that Michigan history and the history of the Court will be remembered into the future. So thank you so much. At this juncture, we receive the report of the Society and we will immediately proceed to call the first cast of the day, People v McNally.