Former Justice James L. Ryan inducted into Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame

 The Honorable James L. Ryan, former Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, was inducted into the Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame on Sept. 13 in Muskegon. The Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame recognizes Irish Americans who have made important contributions in various areas of life in Michigan, such as public service.

“I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity of serving on the Michigan Supreme Court with my good friend, Justice Jim Ryan. Justice Ryan’s integrity, analytical skills and legal acumen were outstanding traits that served the people of Michigan wisely and well,” said Justice Michael F. Cavanagh. 

Ryan was appointed to Michigan’s high court in 1975 by Governor William Milliken, where he served as the 89th Justice. In 1985, he was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, assumed the status of senior judge in 2000, and retired in 2010. He also served as a military judge in the U.S. Marine Corps and Naval Reserve for more than 30 years.

A graduate of Detroit Catholic Central High School and the University of Detroit School of Law, Ryan began his 47-year judicial career as a justice of the peace in Redford Township in 1963. Eventually, he served on the committee that abolished the justice of the peace and replaced it with a district court system. 

Ryan also has served as an adjunct professor of law at Ave Maria School of Law, University of Detroit School of Law, and Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He has been awarded four Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees. 

Ryan, who will turn 82 in November, joined four other new members of the Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame inducted last weekend at a special ceremony. The ceremony and a reception with the inductees afterward were open to the public.

The Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame was founded in 2012 by the Muskegon Irish American Society and is permanently displayed in Muskegon and on the Hall of Fame website. For more information, visit


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