Justice Maura Corrigan’s resignation last week left an important vacancy at the Michigan Supreme Court at the outset of Governor Rick Snyder’s tenure. Justice Corrigan's seat was replaced today with the appointment of long-serving Court of Appeals Judge Brian Zahra.
|Judge Brian Zahra|
As this blog has noted over the past 18-months, the dissention among the liberal and conservative justices on our High Court has become public, and nasty. While Judge Zahra is certainly a conservative judge, he has a legal scholar’s temperament and strong work ethic. He assumes Justice Corrigan’s seat, and the balance of her term, at a time when the Court has seen some embarrassing escapades and needs a rapprochement.
Judge Zahra was a law school classmate of this Blogger at the University of Detroit School of Law in the mid-1980s. On Thursdays after class, Zahra would get us into the Polish Falcon Club in Detroit to play basketball. Back then, he took the law very seriously, graduating at the top of our class as one of the editors of the law review.
Already well-known in Detroit’s tight GOP circles by the time he graduated law school in 1987, Zahra was made partner during a brief stint at the downtown office of the Dickenson Wright law firm. Almost as soon as he was promoted to partner, he accepted an appointment to the Wayne County Circuit Court; courtesy of then-Governor Engler. Shortly thereafter, he was again-appointed by Engler in 1999 to the Court of Appeals where he won re-election.
Politics aside, Judge Zahra is an excellent selection for the Michigan Supreme Court. Ideologically, he is not too different from departing Justice Corrigan. Like her, Zahra has solid work habits and a strong sense of public service. Former Detroit Mayor and Supreme Court Justice Dennis Archer describes Zahra as a "moderate" conservative, "not an idealogue".
Here is Justice Robert Young's official statement on Zahra's appointment to the bench. Also, the Free Press editorialized the appointment.
We think the newest justice has an excellent opportunity to quell the public discord within the Hall of Justice that has received embarrassing national attention over the past year. We are more accustomed to seeing such rancor down the street, where the two political branches attempt to govern the state.
Congratulations Justice Zahra. May you long-serve the High Court in good health.
Labels: Dennis Archer, Governor Rick Snyder, John Engler, Judge Brian Zahra, Justice Maura Corrigan, law review, Michigan Court of Appeals, Michigan Supreme Court, University of Detroit School of Law