Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ray's Reviews: “Michigan’s Supreme Court Historical Reference Guide” by David G. Chardavoyne

 Virtually everything you’ve ever wanted to know about top echelon of our
state’s legal profession is now available in an exceptional,
well-researched volume.

        “Michigan’s Supreme Court Historical Reference Guide” by David G.
Chardavoyne with Paul Moreno (Michigan State University Press, $34.95) is
a deluxe, well-illustrated book that’s overflowing with intriguing
background information and history.

        This new second edition is a compilation of two earlier books; the
initial 1998 edition was researched by Jill K. Moore, edited by Ellen
Campbell, with many biographies by Ann Lucas.

        “The Verdict of History” by Moreno, which first appeared in the Michigan
Bar Journal as a supplement in 2008, came out as a book in 2009.

        This current project was supported by members of the Michigan Supreme
Court Historical Society. It has a section on the structural evolution of
the court and additional information on Chief and Presiding Judges and

        The first part of the book is devoted to a brief biographies of all of
the Michigan State Supreme Court justices from territorial days in 1803
through this year.

        The biographies include many images of the justices, taken from various
sources, utilizing original portrait paintings and clear photographs.

        Detailed information is offered regarding the birth and death of the
justices, their education, residence and political party affiliation.

        Facts are also provided as to how they became Supreme Court members, why
and when they left the court, and their predecessors and successors.

        Electoral information abounds – the entries explore their professional
career as well, covering other aspects of their lives, placing it in
historical perspective.

        Many Michigan Supreme Court justices have local ties, including Leland
Carr, Clifford Taylor, Michael Cavanaugh, John Fitzgerald, Thomas Brennan
and Steven Markman.

        The second half of the book offers an analysis of the twenty top
decisions of the Michigan Supreme Court, examining their importance and
placing them in historical context.

        While some of the cases date back to the pre-Civil War era, others like
“People v. Kevorkian: the Right to Die” may be more relevant.

        One section is devoted to elections, indicating candidates and results;
there are also factual charts, notes and an index.

        This is a great reference book, ideal for anyone who’s interested in
learning more about Michigan’s distinctive legal history.

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed
Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987.

Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on June 14, 2015.

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