LANSING – In an unanimous vote by her colleagues, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack was elected chief justice on Wednesday, making this the first time in the state’s history that the offices of governor, attorney general, secretary of state and chief justice are all held by women.
McCormack succeeds Steve Markman, the most senior member of the court, who declined to run for a second term as chief justice.
This is also the first time the Michigan Supreme Court will have a chief justice pro tem. Justice David Viviano will hold that position.
McCormack was elected to the court in 2012, nominated by the Democratic Party. Viviano, a Republican, was appointed in 2013 by former Gov. Snyder and won election in 2014.
“In asking David to serve as pro tem, I wanted to send a message that this is truly a non-partisan court,” McCormack said. “And there’s also a lot of work to do here.”
McCormack detailed her priorities in a press release:
- “Implementing technology to increase access, improve service and make the judiciary more efficient, including statewide e-filing, online dispute resolution and easy-to-use web-based tools to support self-represented litigants.”
- “Reform of pretrial practices so that bail decisions guard individual rights, protect public safety and reduce the cost of incarceration.”
- “Problem-solving courts that emphasize treatment, rigorous monitoring and community support to help defendants tackle problems such as substance abuse, dramatically reducing repeat offenses and making neighborhoods safer.”
“Michigan’s courts must be accessible to all, engaged with the communities they serve, independent of political pressure and efficient in making the best use of public resources,” McCormack said in a statement. “My goal is to build on past achievements while redoubling our efforts to help Michigan’s judiciary become more responsive to the public we serve.”
Before serving on the court, McCormack was on the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School and helped to found U of M’s Innocence Clinic, which seeks justice for those wrongfully convicted of crimes.
Markman led the court for two years and will leave the bench when his term expires in 2020 to comply with the state’s mandatory retirement age.
“I am grateful to former Chief Justice Markman for his leadership,” McCormack said. “He worked diligently for the people who rely on our courts and we are all grateful for his service.”