Former Michigan Supreme Court justice passes: Patricia Boyle remembered as legal pioneer

 By Steve Thorpe

Legal News
 
Attorneys and fellow jurists marked the passing of former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Patricia Boyle and paid tribute to her many contributions to the law.
"Today the Michigan Supreme Court is in mourning for one of the first
women to sit on this bench,” said Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. in a statement. “Justice Patricia Boyle brought a sharp legal mind and profound integrity to her tenure on the Court. She was a mentor to me, a treasure of wisdom and good humor. She is one of those rare people of whom we can truly say, 'She left this place better than she found it.' The Court extends its heartfelt sympathy to her family." 
Boyle, 76, died Monday while visiting her sister in Florida where she was hospitalized for respiratory failure, according to relatives.
“Patty was extraordinary in every way,” said Mary Massaron Ross, Leader of the Appellate Practice Group at Plunkett Cooney, who clerked for Boyle in 1991-92. “I was so lucky to clerk for her and become a close friend. She was incredibly intelligent, completely dedicated to the rule of law and determined to reach the right result.”
“(Justice Boyle) was a pioneer for women lawyers and opened doors in our profession,” said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy in a statement. “She was the smartest lawyer in the room and conducted herself with dignity and grace.”
Massaron Ross also called Boyle a pioneer and pointed to her nurturing side and her support for young attorneys.
“She was a great friend and mentor to all sorts of lawyers all over the country. Certainly, for me, she was a great model for how to be a lawyer – with grace, intelligence, dignity, humility and humor.“
Born in Detroit, Boyle earned her J.D. from Wayne State University in 1963, graduating first in her class. She was a law clerk to Judge Thaddeus Machrowicz, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, from 1964-65. She was then an assistant U.S. Attorney in  Detroit from 1965-1970. Boyle then became an Assistant prosecuting attorney of Wayne County from 1970-76. She was a judge on the Recorder's Court from 1976-78.
On July 25, 1978, Boyle was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on Sept. 22, 1978, and received her commission the following day.  On April 20, 1983, she resigned and was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. She was elected to the Court in 1986, and re-elected to an eight-year term beginning in 1990. Her service on the Michigan Supreme Court ended in 1998.
Although her career was distinguished, she faced many challenges when it began in an era when women attorneys were rare.
“When she graduated from law school, despite being at the top of her class, none of the major firms would hire her because she was a women,” Massaron Ross says. “She did not let that stop her. She found a way to become a great lawyer, prosecutor and judge.”
 

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