What's Under the Robe: Chief Judge William Giovan, Wayne County Circuit Court

Serious about the law, William J. Giovan loves his new job. He became chief judge of the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan in 2008 after serving as Chief Judge pro tempore for three years. Currently, he leads a court of 63 judges and chairs the courts Mediation Tribunal Association. He has been a judge for most of his 47-year career, and has served in leadership positions on both bench and bar-related associations at local and statewide levels. He has authored several publications, ranging from a case comment he wrote in 1959 to Civil Procedure Before Trial, a Michigan practice guide co-authored in 2003 with Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan and several local attorneys.

Giovan recently took time to provide insight into who he is behind the robe.

If you werent an attorney/judge, what would you be?
Unemployed.

What would attorneys be most surprised to know about you?
That I actually like this job.

What are your pet peeves in your courtroom?
I do not allow pets in the courtroom.

What groups or organizations do you belong to?
Grosse Pointe Theatre, Friends of Detroit Rowing, Grosse Pointe War Memorial, NAACP, Italian-American Bar Association.

What advice would you give a new attorney about courtroom etiquette?
Be very careful when you insult the judge.

Were you elected or appointed?
I was elected to the Recorders Court in 1966 and appointed to both the Common Pleas Court (1973) and the Circuit Court (1976). Ive not had a promotion since then.

What hobbies do you enjoy?
Quartet singing, tennis, rowing, fencing. Every other spare moment is spent on Free Cell.

Favorite law-related TV show or movie?
The TV shows are so far removed from reality that I cant watch them. My all-time favorite law movies are Twelve Angry Men and Inherit the Wind.

What is the last book you read?
Im reading Imagining the Law by Norman Cantor, on the development of the Common Law.

How many years have you been on the bench? How long have you been chief judge?
Ive been a full-time judge for 35 years. Its been 42 years since I first served as a judge. Ive been Chief Judge for about an hour and a half.

Who is your hero?
Julius Caesar.

Who isor wasyour mentor?
Julius Caesar. I just dont want to end up like him.

Please list your degrees and schools attended, including bachelors degree and law degree.
Bachelor of Philosophy, University of Detroit.
Juris Doctor, University of Michigan Law School.


What is your favorite movie?
The Godfather.

What is your favorite food?
Pizza.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Not proper for me to say.

Please describe your background prior to taking the bench.
I was a sole practitioner in downtown Detroit.

What is your idea of a perfect day off?
Finally getting something done around the house.

What else would you like attorneys to know about you or about practicing in your courtroom?
I want that they should stop practicing and just get the job done.

Last but not least: What is the most unusual outfit you have worn under your robe?
Once I forgot to take my jacket off first.

For more information about Judge Giovan, visit www.detroitlawyer.org/topic.jsp? topicId=684.

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