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The Michigan Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. state of Michiganmarker. It is known as Michigan's "court of last resort" and consists of seven justices, who are elected to eight-year terms. Candidates are nominated by political parties and are elected on a nonpartisan ballot. Supreme Court candidates must be qualified electors, licensed to practice law in Michigan for at least five years, and under 70 years of age at the time of election. Vacancies are filled by appointment of the Governor until the next general election. Every two years, the justices elect a member of the Court to serve as Chief Justice.

Each year, the Court receives over 2,000 new case filings. In most cases, the litigants seek review of Michigan Court of Appeals decisions, but the Supreme Court also hears cases of attorney and judicial misconduct, as well as a small number of matters over which the Court has original jurisdiction. The Court issues a decision by order or opinion in all cases filed with it. Opinions and orders of the Court are reported in an official publication, Michigan Reports, as well as in Thomson West's privately-published North Western Reporter.

The Court's other duties include overseeing the operations of all state trial courts; the Court is assisted by the State Court Administrative Office, an agency of the Court. The Court's responsibilities also include a public comment process for changes to court rules, rules of evidence, and other administrative matters. The court has broad superintending control power over all the state courts in Michigan.

Under Article 6, Section 30 of the Michigan Constitution, the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission is created. This is an agency within the judiciary, which has jurisdiction over allegations of judicial misconduct, misbehavior, and infirmity. The Supreme Court is given original, superintending control power, and appellate jurisdiction over the issue of penalty (up to and including removal of judges from office).

The Court is located in the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansingmarker, the state capital.


The Michigan Supreme Court can be dated back to the Supreme Court of Michigan Territory established in 1805 with three justices. These justices served for indefinite terms. In 1823 the terms of justices were limited to four years.

The Michigan Supreme Court was the only court created by the first Michigan constitution. It had three members, each also overseeing one of the three judicial circuits, which were Detroit, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo. The court needed a quorum of two to operate. The members of the court were apointed to seven year terms by the governor with the consent of the senate. In 1838 Justice William A. Fletcher drew up a new plan for the court that was approved. This increased the number of circuits to four and thus made the court have four justices, but it left the quorum at two.

In 1848 the court was expanded to consist of five justices. The 1850 Michigan constitution provided for judtices to be elected to six year terms. In 1858 the Circuit Courts were split off from the Supreme Court, so the justices now only served on the Michigan Supreme Court. The court was also reduced in size to only four justices, one of whom was the Chief Justice.

In 1887 the court was expanded to five justices each serving for ten years. It 1903 the court was expanded to eight justices each serving a term of eight years. In 1964 the new state constitution reduced the number of justices on the court to seven.

Current Justices

Frontal view of the Michigan Hall of Justice.
Name Elected/Appointed Term expires Appointing Governor Party Affiliation Dates as Chief Justice

Chief Justice Marilyn Jean Kelly 1996 January 1, 2015 Elected Democrat

Diane Hathaway 2008 January 1, 2017 Elected Democrat

Michael Cavanagh 1982 January 1, 2015 Elected Democrat 1991-1995

Elizabeth Weaver 1994 January 1, 2011 Elected Republican 1999-2000

Maura Corrigan 1998 January 1, 2015 Elected Republican 2001-2004

Robert Young 1999 January 1, 2011 John Engler Republican

Stephen Markman 1999 January 1, 2013 John Engler Republican

Former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justices

Former Justices

See also

The Michigan Hall of Justice houses the Michigan Supreme Court.


  1. Michigan Court of Appeals website
  2. State Court Administrative service website
  3. See, Matter of Del Rio, 400 Mich. 665.
  4. Blair Moody portrait dedication

Further reading

  • Noto, Scott A. A Brief History of the Michigan Supreme Court. (Lansing: Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, 2001).

External links

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