Obituary: Isidore B. Torres

Isidore B. Torres, former Wayne County Circuit Court Judge, peacefully passed away on Tuesday, January 12, at the age of 73, surrounded by his family. He was born to Valentin O. and Francisca B (Barboza) Torres on December 13, 1947 in San Antonio, TX and resided in Bay City, MI for most of his young-adult life. He graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and then obtained a law degree from Wayne State University Law School. He chose to stay in Detroit to raise his family and build a career.

Torres worked as a senior assistant corporation counsel for the City of Detroit starting in 1978. When he left the City of Detroit Law Department, he co-founded the Law Firm of Torres & Horvath.

In 1983, he became the first Hispanic member of the Wayne County court system when Gov. James Blanchard appointed him to serve on the 36th District Court. Six years later, Torres was appointed to serve on the former City of Detroit Recorder’s Court. In 1997, when Gov. John Engler merged the Detroit Recorder’s Court into Wayne County Circuit Court, Torres transferred into the Civil Division.

As a Civil Court judge, he served as the presiding judge for the Wayne County Circuit Court Civil Division. He was also appointed by the chief judge to serve as the settlement judge for the Wayne County Circuit Court. In addition, Torres served as a visiting judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals. He retired from the Civil Division in 2010, having served on the bench for 27 years.

Torres was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court Racial/Ethnic Task Force, the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines Commission, and the State Bar of Michigan Open Justice Commission, among others. He was a founding member of the Hispanic Bar Association, a member of the Detroit Bar Association, the Armenian Bar Association, and several others.

While “retired,” Torres continued to practice law in a multitude of arenas. He and his son, Felipe, established I.B. Torres PLLC specializing in commercial law and transactions, as well as alternative dispute resolution. He was Of Counsel with the law firm of Williams Acosta PLLC where his son began his career as a litigation attorney in 2006, and he served as the director of the Fraud and Corruption Investigation Unit for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office from 2015 through 2020. Torres was also Of Counsel with the law firm of Ishbia and Gagleard PC. In this role, he considered himself especially blessed to add yet another dimension to the friendship and partnership that he and Jeffrey A. Ishbia began at Detroit Neighborhood Legal Services in 1974.

Throughout his life, Torres was steadfastly committed to equal access to justice, fair and just treatment under the law, and equal representation in government. Torres relentlessly fought to advance people of all minority groups, not just those that shared his Chicano identity. He argued that the foundational principles of our democracy are inherently abhorrent to the favoring of one ethnic group over another. Excluding a group of people from government, he believed, stripped those people of their inherent right to pursue their vision of the American Dream.

During his judicial career, Torres was recognized for his many contributions to equal justice initiatives by the State of Michigan legislature, the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association (Trailblazer Award recipient), the Father Kern Foundation, and the City of Detroit.

Above all his accolades, Torres’ greatest pride was his family. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Yolanda, his brother Danny, and his brother-in-law Peter Perez. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Goharik Karian Torres, EdD; daughters Laura Torres (Michael Anderson) and Marissa Savitskie (Kevin) and son, Felipe B. Torres. He is survived by his five grandchildren: Isabella Anderson, Liliana Anderson, Henry Anderson, Thomas Savitskie and Mateo Savitskie. He is also survived by his oldest brother and hero, John Torres (wife Mary), Marina Perez (Peter), Abel Torres (Kathy), Eduardo Torres (Betty), Elizabeth Torres, Areknaz Mudge (Randy), and Vartan Karian.


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