Former Justice Clifford W. Taylor portrait presented to Michigan Supreme Court


By Roberta M. Gubbins

Legal News

At 3:15 on September 14th a special session of the Michigan Supreme Court was held in honor of former Justice and Chief Justice Clifford W. Taylor. As is traditional, the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society presented a portrait of the former justice to the court.

"Justice Taylor, we are pleased to have you back here and we will enjoy seeing just how well Patricia Burnett, the artist worked up your portrait to disguise the depravations of age." Chief Justice Robert F. Young said to laughter, opening the ceremony.

Wallace D. Riley, President of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society explained that "The Society is the caretaker for 87 portraits, all relating to the court. This number includes individual portraits of majority of the justices who have sat on this court." When the Society first acquired the portraits, he explained, many had been seriously damaged over the course of time. The Society successful took on the task of restoring and preserving the collection.

The Honorable Spencer Abraham, U.S. Secretary of Energy, 2001-2005, U.S. Senator, 1995-2001, spoke of the early years with Justice Taylor when they would compete for public office. According to Abraham, he and Taylor, back in 1971 when they were starting their careers wanted to have an "impact on the legal discourse" in our country." To that end they started the Harvard Review of Law and Policy, a trend that eventually led to the formation of the Federalist Society.

Maura D. Corrigan, Michigan Supreme Court Justice, 1999-2011, Chief Justice 2001-2004, Director of the Department of Human Services, looked back on the twenty years since she and Justice Taylor were appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court by Gov. Engler. "You (Justice Taylor) were steadfast in your work as a judge and a justice. You always honored the oath that we took," she said, commenting on his years of service.

Attorney General Bill Schuette said, "It is special day indeed for us and for Cliff Taylor and his family," acknowledging Taylor's contributions to the community and the state. "The space that your portrait will occupy in this building is of the highest distinction." Bernard Dobranski, Dean-Emeritus and Professor of Law, Ave Maria School of Law spoke next noting that Justice Taylor followed the tenant that judges should interpret not make the law. Clarence L. Pozza, Jr., Principal, Miller, Canfield, a friend and colleague, spoke of his admiration for Justice Taylor.

Former Governor of Michigan (1991-2002) John M. Engler took the podium. "Today we gather to honor our 100th justice. Cliff Taylor is a man of great integrity," Governor Engler said. He also noted Taylor's contributions to the leadership of the courts.

Patricia Hill Burnett, listed as one of the ten distinguished portrait artists in the country by the Council of Leading American Portraits Painters, unveiled the portrait. Justice Taylor thanked the artist, Miller Canfield, each of those who came to speak and the legal community for the honor. Justice Markman closed the ceremony

Patricia Hill Burnett's extensive education in fine arts includes Goucher College, the Corcoran Museum Art School, The Center for Creative Studies, the Institute d'Allende, Wayne State University and the Truro School of Art. Over a long and illustrious career, Burnett has been commissioned to paint portraits of countless individuals, including such notables as Rosa Parts, William Milliken, Max Fister, Barbara Walthers, Betty Ford, Margaret Thatcher and Corazon Aquino. Her work is shown in galleries across the United States, London, Paris and Rome.

The Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, begun in 1988, collects, preserves, and displays documents, records, and memorabilia relating to the Michigan Supreme Court and the other Courts of Michigan, promotes the study of the history of Michigan's courts, and seeks to increase public awareness of Michigan's legal heritage. The Society sponsors and conducts historical research, provides speakers and educational materials for students, and sponsors and provides publications, portraits and memorials, special events, and projects consistent with its mission. There are currently about 300 members.

Published: Thu, Sep 22, 2011


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