True Blue: Area judge a 'patriot through and through'


By Barry Malone
Legal News

In recognition of his contributions to the community outside of the legal profession, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren was the 2015 recipient of the Frances R. Avadenka Memorial Award from the Oakland County Bar Association (OCBA).

Warren, and his then 10-year old daughter Leah, founded Patriot Week in 2009, and the program is observed annually from September 11-17.

“Patriot Week renews America’s spirit by celebrating the first principles, founding fathers and other patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history,” reads the Patriot Week website. “Many of [our] current holidays have become overly commercialized or have lost their deeper meaning. We need to invigorate out appreciate and understanding of America’s spirit.”

“Even though the Patriot Week may seem to have a stake in the legal profession, it is so much more far reaching,” wrote Victoria King in her nomination letter. “Judge Warren made significant contributions to the community by renewing the American spirit and it caught on . . . Now, the grassroots effort has expanded to have activities and bills pass in several other states . . .”

Those states include Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, along with Washington, D.C.

“With formal recognition being provided by the Michigan State Senate and the State House resolutions, Judge Warren and his daughter, Leah, continue to bring awareness and understanding to members of communities throughout the state, as well as in many other states across the nation, of the importance of our nation’s principles and why they should be celebrated,” wrote Allison Lavoie, a senior associate attorney at the Law Firm of Victoria PC and a former law clerk for Warren. “Judge Warren’s involvement in Patriot Week encourages members of the community to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for America’s history through the various activities and events that are planned by him and his committee throughout the week.”

Lisa Halushka, assistant dean and professor at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and a Patriot Week Advisory Board member, spoke of Warren’s work benefitting the legal community.

“Together with his daughter Leah, Judge Warren has elevated the legal community by his passionate commitment to patriotism. He reminds us of our founding principles and our oath to the Constitution. His work ignites in all of us a renewed sense of honor and responsibility as lawyers and Americans.”

Asked about the impact Patriot Week has on the community, Warren said, “I think a number of impacts. One, it’s been able to channel a great deal of otherwise unfocused energy into renewing the spirit of America . . .

Two, it acts as a school out of school in the sense that we provide educational programs that are very, very unique; that enable students and the general public to learn about our history in a fun and engaging way that isn’t available elsewhere . . . Three, [Patriot Week] is a place where people of different political backgrounds and interests can find common ground.”

Warren described the Patriot Week volunteers as coming from a wide swath of political views including the far left and the far right. Describing himself as delighted and overwhelmed by the positive reception from community groups, educators, and the general public, Warren said, “I had no true expectation of what would happen. I had this hope that five to six years down the road we would be where we are right now. I’m never satisfied. We’ve come a long way. I’m looking forward to growth in vigorous ways throughout the year.

“In another five years, it’s my hope that we have recognition of Patriot Week on a statewide level in all 50 states. For Patriot Week to be something that is well known and eagerly anticipated by participants across the country.”

A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Warren earned his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University. Following law school, he served as a clerk for Michigan Supreme Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley. A former member of the State Board of Education, Warren was an attorney at Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, & Cohn before being appointed to the Circuit Court bench in 2002.

He was raised in St. Clair Shores, graduating from Lakeview High School in 1985. His father, Michael Sr., was a child support specialist for the Family Independent Agency before retiring. His mother, Jo Ann, was a registered nurse in various hospital settings prior to retirement.

Calling the Avadenka Award “very humbling,” Warren credited his daughter for launching the program and said that “[Patriot Week] is very much a group effort with many, many volunteers that put in countless hours.”