DEARBORN – Hundreds of community members, supporters, judges and elected officials were at the investiture ceremony for Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge Yvonna Abraham on Monday, May 16.
The ceremony for Abraham, the first Palestinian American judge in Michigan, took place at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn.
Abraham was appointed to the bench by Governor Whitmer to fill a partial term until the beginning of next year. She is also up for election for that position this November. She previously served as magistrate and director of probation for the 20th District Court in Dearborn Heights.
Zenna Elhasan, general counsel at the Kresge Foundation, served as mistress of ceremonies, with Dearborn Police standing as honor guard. Maria Saad sang the national anthem.
20th District Court Judges David Turfe and Mark Plawecki, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge Charlene Elder and Abraham’s husband, Marwan Salamey, all made remarks.
Members of Abraham’s family presented her with the robe, while Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge David Allen administered the oath of office.
“I am here today and take the bench because of so many people,” Abraham said. “Family, friends, colleagues past and present, and community members.”
She took time to thank mentors and inspiring figures along her careers, many of whom spoke at the ceremony, like Elhasan, Turfe and Allen.
“In a field with few female mentors, you gracefully took that role and like everything else you do, you excelled at it,” Abraham said of Elhasan. “You personify class and integrity and set an example for young women and professionals everywhere.”
I can see how proud the legal community is of you and I can see how proud your parents, relatives and friends are, and you can feel it in this room tonight. — Judge Charlene Elder
Speakers talked of Abraham’s authenticity, intelligence, judicial temperament and humbleness.
“Yvonna, your pursuit of excellence has guaranteed your success in the profession, your success as a daughter, your success as a sibling, a wife and a mother,” Elder said. “It is so uplifting to see the beauty of your dreams come true. I can see how proud the legal community is of you and I can see how proud your parents, relatives and friends are, and you can feel it in this room tonight.”
Gilchrist spoke of the impressions he has of Abraham from meeting her at community events over the years.
“What I noticed was just how real she was, and (as Mayor Hammoud) talked about authenticity, being real is important,” he said, adding, “I met a person who was welcoming, who was understanding, who was empathetic and was tenacious. These are all the qualities that we hope to continue to see from her and her colleagues who are serving the bench.”
Video: Wayne County Third Circuit Court Judge Yvonna Abraham delivers remarks at her investiture ceremony in Dearborn, May 16
When I think back to my own childhood growing up in the Southend of Dearborn, I saw the strength of a community that offered its members unwavering and constant support. — Judge Yvonna Abraham
Abraham gave a nod to her upbringing in the Southend of Dearborn, being both the first woman and the first person from her family to complete high school, college and a graduate program.
“When I think back to my own childhood growing up in the Southend of Dearborn, I saw the strength of a community that offered its members unwavering and constant support,” Abraham said. “There were and are a set of values that we live by; an unspoken bond we share. There was a rich tapestry woven into the fabric of our lives. Southenders here today know what I am talking about.”
Abraham said that as a judge, she promises to remain committed to all individuals who enter her courtroom by ensuring her decisions are fair and equitable, based on “deliberation grounded in the law.”
“Most importantly, I understand the human aspect of our justice system,” she said. “Fair and impartial proceedings distributed with uncompromising integrity are essential to our deeply grounded notions of justice.”
She also thanked Dearborn Heights Mayor Bill Bazzi, who was in attendance, and her friends and family.
Abraham received her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and previously served as a judicial attorney with the Wayne County Circuit Court and as a solo practitioner, and has taught business law classes at Lawrence Technological University.