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The Michigan Court of Appeals opened on January 12, 1965. In 2015, the Court is commemorating its 50th Anniversary, culminating with a celebration in April. Since its opening, 82 judges have served on the Court, the Court has issued over 151,700 dispositive opinions dealing with many of the most important legal issues that have faced the State of Michigan and its people, and the Court has been widely recognized as one of the premier intermediate appellate courts in the country.  
COA Judges 1965.jpg  
The original nine judges that served on the Court of Appeals in 1965 were: (front row) Thomas Giles Kavanagh, Chief Judge pro tempore John W. Fitzgerald, Chief Judge T. John Lesinski, John D. Watts, and (back row) Donald E. Holbrook, John H. Gillis, Louis D. McGregor, Timothy C. Quinn, and Robert B. Burns.

The judges that serve on the Court of Appeals in 2015 are (pictured from left to right):
First row: Joel P. Hoekstra, Kathleen Jansen, David H. Sawyer, William B. Murphy, Mark J. Cavanagh, E. Thomas Fitzgerald, Jane E. Markey
Second row: Stephen L. Borrello, Pat M. Donofrio, Kirsten Frank Kelly, Kurtis T. Wilder, Chief Judge Michael J. Talbot, Patrick M. Meter, Chief Judge Pro Tem Christopher M. Murray, Karen M. Fort Hood, Jane M. Beckering
Third row: Michael F. Gadola, Mark T. Boonstra, Douglas B. Shapiro, Cynthia Diane Stephens, Michael J. Kelly, Elizabeth L. Gleicher, Amy Ronayne Krause, Michael J. Riordan
Not pictured: Deborah A. Servitto, Peter D. O’Connell, Donald S. Owens, Henry William Saad

Press Releases/Resolutions

NEWS RELEASE:  Michigan Court of Appeals Announces 50th Anniversary Celebration


​NEWS RELEASE: Michigan Court of Appeals 50th Anniversary Statement from Chief Justice Young


RESOLUTION:  COA Anniversary Senate Resolution


Video Coverage

Watch the special Court session, held on April 30, 2015, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Court of Appeals.


The ceremony included: 

  • Processional of Current and Former Judges
  • Call to Order
  • Invocation by Revernd Bishop Earl A. Boyea
  • Introduction of Current and Former Judges by Chief Judge Pro Tem Christopher M. Murray
  • Memorial Tribute to Deceased Judges by Judge William B. Murphy
  • Anniversary Comments by Chief Judge Michael J. Talbot
  • Benediction by Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens
  • Adjournment



Visit the Learning Center in the Hall of Justice to Experience the COA 50th Anniversary Exhibit.


Visit the Michigan Historical Center to Experience the COA 50th Anniversary Exhibit.


      William C. Whitbeck
      Court of Appeals Judge 1997-2014, Chief Judge 2002-2007, 
      Chief Judge Pro Tem 1991-2001
      Norman Otto Stockmeyer
      Professor Emeritus, Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School
      Court of Appeals Research Director 1968-1976
      Brian G. Shannon
      Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss PC
      First Chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Michigan, 
      Elizabeth Pyzik
      Court of Appeals Employee 1965-2009
Reflections on the Pivotal Role of the Appellate Court Administration
      Committee, the Court of Appeals, and Two Lost Friends

      Don Fulkerson
      Former member of the Appellate Court Administration Committee
      Past Chair and Concilmember of the Appellate Practice Section
      Allan Falk
      Former Court of Appeals Commissioner 1972-1998

Quotable Quotes

Judge Richard F. Suhrheinrich  Submitted:  October 7, 2014
6th Circuit US Court of Appeals
“I was a young practicing attorney when the Michigan Court of Appeals was established.  I remember T. John Lesinski, the Chief Judge, saying, ‘this Court is to be an attorney’s Court.  It will endeavor to answer just the question before it quickly and thoroughly.’  I hope the Court and, for that matter, all courts, continue to follow those sentiments.” 

Bruce W. Neckers  Submitted:  January 16, 2015
Past President, State Bar of Michigan
“The Michigan Court of Appeals, during its 50-year history, has performed a vital role by holding hearings and issuing opinions in virtually every appellate matter considered by the Michigan Courts.  In doing so, it has served the people of the State of Michigan with dignity and justice.” 
Justice James L. Ryan  Submitted:  January 17, 2015
Former Justice, Michigan Supreme Court
Inactive Judge, 6th Circuit US Court of Appeals
“We who, in 1965, labored at the bottom of the judicial totem pole, recognized that the new Court of Appeals would diminish the stature of the Circuit Courts but surely enhance the quality of justice for Michigan’s citizens.  Time and the work of the Court of Appeals have proved us correct.  Congratulations to the Court and all who have made it great.” 
Thomas W. Cranmer  Submitted:  January 20, 2015
Past President, State Bar of Michigan
“Litigation is fraught with uncertainty.  But when clients ask me to advise them regarding an appeal pending before the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Court’s dedication to a thorough, incisive, and reasoned view of each case allows me to assure them that whatever the ultimate outcome of their case, we will have had our day in court.  I have no doubt that the Court’s sustained dedication to excellence will continue well into the future.” 
Linda M. Garbarino  Submitted:  January 28, 2015
Past Chair – Appellate Practice Section
“At my first oral argument, I was of course quite nervous, but a court officer said something to me that I have always reflected on before subsequent oral arguments:  ‘Just speak to the judges like they are people’ -- smart, educated people, of course, but people, nonetheless.  This advice has always served me well.” 
Justice David F. Viviano  Submitted:  February 2, 2015
Justice, Michigan Supreme Court
“Over the past 50 years, the Court of Appeals has been a leader in implementing administrative practices and new technologies to better serve litigants, and has been essential to the efficient administration of justice in the State of Michigan.” 
Dennis W. Archer  Submitted:  February 10, 2015
Former Justice, Michigan Supreme Court
Former President of the American Bar Association
“The Michigan Court of Appeals, since its creation 50 years ago, has provided litigants and lawyers with timely and quality opinions which resulted in an enhanced respect for the rule of law.  If the Legislature will provide reasonable funding for our courts in Michigan and our judiciary into the future, those who seek a resolution to their legal issues will receive them quicker and more efficiently.”
Michael F. Cavanagh  Submitted:  February 9, 2015
Former Justice, Michigan Supreme Court
“During the second year of the Court of Appeals’ existence, I had the privilege of clerking for Thomas Giles Kavanagh and working with all nine original judges of the Court.  At that time, I did not imagine that I would be sitting on the same Court when it expanded to eighteen members.”
Bill Schuette  Submitted:  February 20, 2015
Attorney General
Former Judge, Michigan Court of Appeals
“I have so many wonderful memories of my years of service as a Judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals.  Congratulations to my colleagues on this tremendous occasion of celebrating 50 years of the Court.”
Rick Snyder  Submitted:  February 20, 2015
Governor, State of Michigan
“As our Michigan Court of Appeals marks its 50th year of serving the citizens of our State, I extend my personal thanks and congratulations to the staff of the court and the 82 judges who have in the past and continue to today provide justice with such distinction.”
Maura D. Corrigan  Submitted:  March 7, 2015
Former Justice, Michigan Supreme Court
Former Judge, Michigan Court of Appeals
“Most of the ‘con-con’ delegates were World War II veterans, members of the Greatest Generation who protected our country against tyranny in wartime.  In launching our ‘by-right’ Court of Appeals, the delegates and the people of Michigan modernized the administration of justice and protected the liberty and justice for all.  May their dreams live on for generations upon generations!”
Kevin Cotter  Submitted:  March 13, 2015
Speaker of the House
Michigan House of Representatives
"Over the past 50 years, the Court of Appeals has grown immensely in stature, because Michigan residents trust it to deliver justice. Going forward, we all look forward to watching it continue to grow in service and wisdom." 
John Engler  Submitted: April 2, 2015
Former Governor, State of Michigan
“The Michigan Court of Appeals deserves to be feted. It has an illustrious history replete with many remarkable administrative and legal “firsts” that have been recognized across the country.  In addition, it has a special place in my heart because it handled so many appeals of actions taken during my tenure as Governor. The Court was also a repository of judicial excellence that I tapped on three occasions when vacancies arose on the Supreme Court.  Congratulations to all those who have shared in the 50 years of the Michigan Court of Appeals.”

A MATTER OF RIGHT -  A History of the Michigan Court of Appeals

By Charles E. Harmon
This 102-page book covers the full history of the Michigan Court of Appeals, from its inception in the early 1960's through to the first days of the 21st Century. Dozens of photographs are juxtaposed with a recounting of each decade of the Court's existence. The book contains tables of Court statistics, charts of evolving district boundaries, summaries of significant cases and decisions from each period, biographies of judges and administrators, and interviews with current and former members of the Court.
A Matter of Right is available for purchase ($25.00 each) by sending a check or money order, made payable to the State of Michigan. Please enclose the name of the publication, as well as the quantity you would like to purchase, and mail to:
Michigan Court of Appeals
Finance Department
Michigan Hall of Justice
P.O. Box 30022
Lansing, MI 48909-7522