Judge Harold Hood of Detroit: There to ‘do good work’

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Harold Hood rose through the legal profession to a position as chief judge pro tem of the Michigan Court of Appeals.

“He was a very humble yet assertive person,” said his son, Kevin Hood. “He was there to do good work. He was there to serve.”

A memorial service will be 10 a.m. May 30 at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, 18700 James Couzens, following his death Tuesday, May 5, 2015, after a battle with leukemia. He was 84.

Judge Hood was born in Hamtramck in 1931 to Sylvester and Lenore Hood. He was the youngest of three children.

After graduating from Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Judge Hood worked his way through college, earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1952. That same year he entered the U.S. Army, where he served as a first lieutenant with the 7th Infantry Division in Camp Casey in Korea.

He got a taste of practicing law when his commanding officer selected him to represent defendants in court-martials.

Judge Hood later attended Wayne State University Law School and earned a juris doctor, with distinction, in 1959.

He formed the law firm Hood, Rice and Charity, and in 1961, he became assistant corporation counsel for the city of Detroit. He also served as principal assistant corporation counsel for the city before leaving in 1969, when he was sworn in as chief assistant United States attorney for the eastern district of Michigan.

Judge Hood’s career included appointments to the Common Pleas Court of Detroit, Recorders Court of Detroit and Wayne County’s Third Judicial Circuit.

In 1982, Judge Hood was appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals; he was elected to terms in 1984, 1990 and 1996. Judge Hood also served as chair of the panel hearing the 1990 state reapportionment case.

According to his family, Judge Hood sought to eradicate bias and discrimination. In 1987, he was appointed to chair the Supreme Court Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Issues in the Courts. The task force issued a report with 122 recommendations to improve the legal system. To ensure they were implemented, Judge Hood partnered with Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly as co-chair of the State Bar, Michigan’s Open Justice Commission from 1997 to 2002.

Judge Hood retired in 2003 as chief judge pro tem of the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Among awards he received were the State Bar of Michigan Champion of Justice Award in 1990, the Founders Award from the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in 2011 and the 2013 Dennis W. Archer Award for Public Service.

“Harold Hood was not only a great legal mind, but a great human being,” said William Giovan, a longtime friend and retired judge of the Wayne County Circuit Court. “He touched many lives and everyone was better for knowing him.”

Judge Hood enjoyed singing and being involved in his children’s lives, said his daughter Karen Hood. He was always fair, calm and kept his word, she said. “He’s been a great father,” she said. “He’s that kind of father throughout my whole life. He’s always been there.”

In 1977, Judge Hood married Lottie Jones. Since 1994 they attended Historic First Congregational Church of Detroit, where she was pastor until January.

Additional survivors include a sister, Gloria Lewis; sons Harold and Kenneth; and seven grandchildren.