Viviano appointed to state Supreme Court


By Melanie Deeds
Legal News

Gov. Rick Snyder announced the appointment Wednesday of Macomb County Circuit and Probate Court Chief Judge David F. Viviano to the Michigan Supreme Court.

He fills a vacancy created by the resignation of former Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway.

“Judge Viviano has a distinguished record of judicial integrity and innovation,” Snyder said. “His deep respect for the judicial branch of government and his commitment to the rule of law will serve Michigan well. I have every confidence that he will be a compassionate, principled justice. He is an outstanding addition to the Michigan Supreme Court.”

Viviano, 41, was elected to the 16th Circuit Court in 2006. Prior to taking the bench, he worked at Dickinson Wright PLLC in Detroit and Jenner & Block LLC in Chicago before starting his own firm in Mount Clemens.

He also served as city attorney for Center Line.

Viviano thanked Snyder “for his confidence in my abilities and for the privilege of serving the people of Michigan on our state’s highest court.”

“It is a tremendous responsibility and one that I cherish,” he said. “I look forward to working with my esteemed Supreme Court colleagues to provide the thoughtful, impartial justice that citizens deserve.”

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. called Viviano “a man of unimpeachable integrity, an exceptional trial judge and a recognized leader on the bench.”

Young said Viviano was “uncommonly bright and learned in the law.

“But it is not his legal ability alone that makes him an outstanding jurist,” the chief justice said. “He also knows that the role of judges is to interpret the laws, not to make them. He understands the deference due to the legislature as the body that expresses the will of the people through legislation. He is committed to following the rule of law wherever it leads him.”

Young said Viviano also brings a “forward-thinking perspective to this court, demonstrating the kind of innovation that is so critical to the future of our justice system,” 

In 2008, Viviano was selected by the Michigan Supreme Court to participate in a pilot project to reform the jury system.

Several of those recommendations were adopted by the Supreme Court and are being used by judges statewide.

Viviano also led Macomb County Circuit Court’s e-filing pilot project and is a strong advocate for technological innovation in the court system.

“I have been privileged to work with Judge Viviano over the years,” said Dana Warnez, president of the Macomb County Bar Association. “He was diligent, innovative and hard-working as a young lawyer in private practice, and he brought those important qualities to the bench. The Macomb County legal community is very proud of him. He’s an excellent addition to our Supreme Court.”

Viviano’s sister, Judge Kathryn Viviano, currently serves in Macomb County Circuit Court's Family Division. His father, Judge Antonio Viviano, served as a probate judge from 1993 to 2002 and as a circuit judge from 2003 to 2010.

Viviano earned degrees from Hillsdale College and the University of Michigan Law School.

He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the Macomb County Bar Association, the Italian American Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. He also is a member of the Macomb County Advisory Board of the Children's Hospital of Michigan.

 Viviano and his wife Neran have two children and are expecting a third in July.

Supreme Court justices serve eight-year terms. Hathaway took office in 2009 and served until her resignation last month.

Viviano must seek election in 2014 to serve the remaining two years of the term. He then will have to run for re-election in 2016 in order to serve a full eight-year term.

Hathaway stepped down prior to pleading guilty to bank fraud for concealing assets, including a Florida home she and her husband owned, while urging a bank to let her unload a Michigan house in a short sale, claiming financial hardship.

She could face up to 18 months in prison under the terms of her deal with federal prosecutors.