Swearing-In Ceremony For Justice Patricia J. Boyle

APRIL 20, 1983

CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Good afternoon. We are met together here in a special session, a ceremonial session, to swear in a new justice. A very auspicious occasion. The Supreme Court welcomes each and every one of you here, and we wish for you an enjoyable time.

The normal routine here is to have the representative of the Michigan State Bar make a few remarks, and its president, John Krsul, is here. So, John, you have the honor of beginning the proceedings.

MR. KRSUL: Mister Chief Justice, members of the Court, Lieutenant Governor Griffiths, Attorney General Kelley, Secretary of State Austin, honored legislators, members of the judiciary, fellow lawyers, ladies and gentlemen:

I appear on behalf of more than 21,000 members of the State Bar of Michigan. I’m privileged to serve as their president this year. Speaking for the members of Michigan’s practicing bar, who constitute the majority of our members, I want to offer our greetings to Justice BOYLE, and our gratification at having, once again, a Supreme Court of full strength.
When she was asked why she chose to trade the long-term certainties of the federal bench for the vicissitudes of membership on this honorable Court, Justice BOYLE spoke of challenge. Well, she’s come to the right place. Because here lies challenge aplenty in this Court’s unending task of leading our state’s system of administering justice, and in its role as the final arbiter of Michigan’s laws. We are confident that these challenges will be met, and met well.

Toward that end, we renew our pledge of cooperation and support to Justice BOYLE, and to all the members of this honorable Court. Thank you.

CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: The Women Lawyers Association of Michigan wish, through Chrysanthe Kotsis, to make a presentation.

MS. KOTSIS: Mister Chief Justice, distinguished members of the Supreme Court, members of the judiciary, Lieutenant Governor Griffiths, Attorney General Kelley, Secretary of State Austin, legislators, ladies and gentlemen:
As President of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, it is my extreme honor and privilege to bestow upon one of our longstanding members a special gift. Normally it is our custom, when honoring one of our members at her judicial swearing in ceremony, to present to her one of our banners bearing the insignia of our organization. However, we have reason to believe that your Honor may already have one or more of these banners in her possession, from prior ceremonies. So instead we have selected a special gift for your desk, engraved with your name and today’s date, commemorating your swearing in as Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. It gives us great pleasure to honor you, soon to be Justice BOYLE, as a distinguished member of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, and as an individual who deeply shares the principles and concerns of our organization. Congratulations, and best wishes.

CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: I wonder if the Lieutenant Governor would like to say a word, being one of the first female judges in this state?

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR GRIFFITHS: Thank you very much, Mister Chief Justice. May it please this honorable Court: I am indeed happy to say how glad I am to see Patricia Boyle take her seat on this Court. I was present when she was first sworn in the Recorder’s Court, and when she was sworn in the federal court. And I would like you to know, Patricia, that as I did then, I do now, point out to you that on that Court in Washington, there are nine justices, and they will undoubtedly have a vacancy during your lifetime. And I hope that you make it.

I think this is a wonderful day for Michigan, and for this Court. And I still remember the little teenage Patricia BOYLE that helped me long ago win a congressional seat. Thank you, Patricia, and good luck. Thank you.

CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: If there are no other presentations, I am ready to call on Judge Feikens. John, will you come forward?

JUDGE FEIKENS: Mister Chief Justice, honorable Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court, Patty and Terry:

Mister Chief Justice, this is a bittersweet day. There is undoubted pleasure in this day, but there is also pain. When Patricia Boyle came to me to say that she was leaving our court I felt this pain. I know that our court is diminished. She is an able judge. And I mean that in every sense of the word. Being both intelligent and compassionate, she has demonstrated her capacity. And all who have seen her work have approved her qualities. You must therefore know how difficult it is for us to accept that loss. But with the words of George Eliot I come here as a representative of the federal judiciary to say that I know that Patricia Boyle will turn these bitter waters into sweetness. You are, Mister Chief Justice, most fortunate in having her join you. She is well prepared to take up the important work of the Supreme Court. She graduated first in her law class at Wayne State University. She served as an Assistant United States Attorney, and as an Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor. In 1976 she became a judge of the Detroit Recorder’s Court, and was, after two years of judicial office, rated by all attorneys, defense and prosecution alike, as the best of the twenty judges of that court. On October 10, 1978, she became a judge on our court. She has excelled there in her work also.

So, Mister Chief Justice, I commend her to you. She will, I know, grace and strengthen your Court. Thank you.

CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Now we’re ready for the oath of office, which the Clerk of the Court will administer, if Justice BOYLE will step forward.

CRIER: All rise.

CLERK: Raise your right hand please, and repeat after me:

[The oath was given as follows:]

I, Patricia J. BOYLE, do solemnly swear that I sill support the Constitution of the United States, and the constitution of this state, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of justice of the Supreme Court according to the best of my ability.

CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Justice BOYLE has long been an advocate of equal rights. So today she’s going to permit her husband to robe her. Terrance Boyle, will you perform the duties?

Justice BOYLE has indicated that she would like to make her remarks from her seat on the bench, and so, Justice BOYLE, if you’ll join us we’d be very happy to hear what you have to say.

JUSTICE BOYLE: Thank you very much. I’ve been very nervous about this all day. But it makes me feel so much better to look out and see the faces of so many friends, Judge Keith, how wonderful for you to be here. Joyce, the Attorney General, * * *. So many friends. Bill Cahalan, I can’t name every one, but it does lift my heart to see all of you here with me today.

Mister Chief Justice, Chief Judge Feikens, Governor Blanchard, Lieutenant Governor Griffiths, judges of the Court of Appeals, and of the Circuit and Recorder’s Court, Senators, Representatives, distinguished colleagues, Judge McCree, colleagues old and new, and family, friends, and my Court family. Mister Chief Justice, I am certain you understand the flood of thoughts and emotion that fills me today. And that you will also understand that if my remarks are brief, it is really an excess of emotion which limits them rather than its absence. In this mixture of feelings, I am first of all conscious of the honor afforded to me by Governor Blanchard. Appointment to this Court is the highest public trust that can come to a lawyer in the State of Michigan. The decisions of this Court touch the lives of every citizen of the state. Public respect for the judiciary is the foundation of the rule of law. The consent of the citizenry, not cannons, upholds the decrees of the courts in this land. And that truth is a precious responsibility which each member of the judiciary assumes. I hope that the Governor is assured that I will be ever aware of this responsibility in the performance of my duties. And thus, I hope, I will vindicate his confidence.

Secondly, to assume these responsibilities I must leave the federal court and my colleagues there, and their spouses, several of whom I see here. I have respected and loved my colleagues. And the decision to leave that court, I’m sure, Mr. Chief Justice and all justices, you will understand has been the most difficult one of my professional life. As when any member leaves a family, there is a wrenching sense of loss. But as with the family, I take with me as examples for the performance of my new duties the diligence, compassion, and unflagging integrity which my colleagues in the federal court exemplify.

Finally, there is in me today a deep sense of humility and gratitude to all of those both present and not present, for the contributions made in bringing me to this moment. For the members of my staff who have supported and sustained me, and without whom quite literally I would not have survived, let alone prospered, I am very grateful. For the friends who have given their time, advice and effort, far beyond what I or anyone might expect as a reasonable share in one’s life of the joys of friendship. For those who have been my mentors, Martha and Patty and others, now and in the past, whose vision for women helped to shape my view of what was possible in my own future. For my family, the Ehrhardts, the Pernicks, the McDougals, and the magnificent and much maligned Smiths— that was my mother’s maiden name— and my husband’s family the Boyles, the Sheets, and the Seigels, whose love has warmed and comforted me. And for my children, including my Mary, whose patience, flexibility and pride in our accomplishments has allowed us to build and maintain a family, despite the demands of professional and political life. And for my husband, whose essential goodness and genuine wishing of well-being for me have guided us in every step along the way, to this very moment, and whose love and companionship is that which has truly lighted my life. To all of you, and for all of that, I am deeply grateful.

Justices, as I appeared before you and your predecessors in arguing cases, I always thought that I had finally to answer the hardest question which you might be harboring, and which, you might not yet have advanced, in the context of this decision and this presentation, the hardest question for me and those close to me, has been the obvious question: why this decision? My answer is not original, but it is of me nonetheless. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “A man must involve himself in the life and passion of his times, or stand in peril of being judged never to have lived at all”. If I can update that quotation and be that woman— that woman, I trust the hardest question will have been answered to your satisfaction, and I hope to that of the people of the State of Michigan. Thank you.

Justice WILLIAMS has asked me if I might like to introduce my family, and of course I would love to do so. Anyone who has ever been through this knows that you run the peril of omitting someone. But let’s hop that I can do it well.

You have met my husband Terry before.


JUSTICE BOYLE: A nonpartisan evaluation, the best lawyer in the State of Michigan. Next to him is my dear mother-in-law, Laura Boyle. Next to Laura is my youngest son, David Pernick. You can hold your applause until I introduce them all. My mother and dad, Elsie and Al Ehrhardt. My oldest son, and my Mary, Jeff and Mary Pernick. And behind, Julie Boyle, Maureen Seigel, Neil Seigel, Laura and Cathleen Seigel, Sharon Sheets, Brian Sheets, Colleen Boyle.

CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Why don’t you in the back who belong to the family come up in front here and let us see you?

JUSTICE BOYLE: These are the Sheets, Kevin, Eileen, Tim, Jack Sheets. Do I have everybody? I forgot Sheila. You see I do have advantages of being back in political life.

I also want to recognize Judge Kennedy from the Court of Appeals [Sixth Circuit], who’s been so wonderful to me. And I’m honored to have her here today. I thank all of you.CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAMS: Why don’t you all stand up?
Well, this is such a delightful party that we hate to call it to an end. But I express the happiness of all here on this occasion. And now we’re going to invite Justice BOYLE to join us in the robing room, and we’re going to tell her that we already have a couple of cases for her to start working on.