Mich. Appeals Court's chief judge to retire

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

The chief judge of the state's appeals court is retiring next month, he said Monday.

Judge Michael Talbot said his retirement, which will be effective April 25, comes after 40 years on the bench.

Judge Michael Talbot

Talbot, 72, was appointed the chief judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2014 and served as one of its judges since 1998. 

Before then, he served as a judge in Wayne County Circuit Court and Detroit Common Pleas Court, the predecessor to the 36th District Court in Detroit. He also served on the Judicial Tenure Commission.

He said in a statement that his career was shaped by a willingness to “say ‘yes’ to opportunities, to new experiences, and the chances to learn and grow. Say ‘yes’ to the invitation.”

In May 2013, the Michigan Supreme Court appointed Talbot special judicial administrator over the 36th District Court after a feasibility report concluded the city court — one of the largest and busiest in the country — was mismanaged and had a backlog of about 500,000 cases a year.

It was only the second time in history the state Supreme Court took control of a local court.

Talbot implemented reforms, including opening more courtrooms, assigning judges to specific dockets, expanding magistrate duties, moving most preliminary examinations to the nearby Frank Murphy Hall of Justice and technology and computer upgrades.

The district court returned to local control in September 2014.

Former Michigan Chief Justice Robert Young, who selected Talbot to set up the state's Court of Claims as well as drive the 36th District Court's reform, praised the retiring judge.

"He is 'an extraordinarily talented jurist, and unlike most judges he has superior administrative abilities,” Young said in a statement.

Talbot, who grew up in Livonia, earned his law degree from the University of Detroit and earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.

For his chambers at the appeals court, Talbot said he requested a portrait of John Swainson, a former governor and state Supreme Court justice who was convicted of lying to a federal grand jury investigating bribery allegations.

Swainson was a teenage GI whose legs were blown off in World War II who would later go on to have his impressive career crash in a scandal.

Talbot said he was moved after hearing former Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Glazer discuss “Wounded Warrior” — his biography of Swainson.

Swainson persevered despite his horrific injuries, made great contributions, and then paid a huge price for his wrongs and failures, Talbot said.

“His portrait as governor was not completed on purpose and so, too, his Supreme Court portrait wasn’t completed," Talbot said. "It’s a reminder how human we all are — a wounded warrior. Was he an imperfect human being? You bet. So am I and that’s why I put it up.”