McCormack chosen to lead Michigan Supreme Court

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack

Women completed their sweep of Michigan's top state offices Wednesday with the election of Bridget McCormack asmcc chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.

McCormack takes over from Steve Markman, the court's most senior member, who declined to run for a second term as chief justice.

Her unanimous election marks the first time in state history that the offices of governor, attorney general, secretary of state and chief justice are all held by women.

Also for the first time, the Supreme Court will have a chief justice pro tem. Justice David Viviano will serve as the court's No. 2, helping with administrative duties.

McCormack was elected to the court in 2012 after being nominated by the Democratic Party. Viviano was appointed in 2013 by Republican Gov. Rick 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."

In a press release, the new chief justice detailed her priorities:

  • "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 joining the court, McCormack was on the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School and is a founder of UM'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."