Justice Robert Young announces retirement

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., announced his retirement March 29 during a meeting with fellow Justices of the Supreme Court. His retirement will be effective April 30 or earlier as he winds up his affairs on the Court.

He will be returning to his former law firm of Dickinson Wright.

“After more than 20 years in the judiciary, with 18 on the Supreme Court, I have decided that it’s time for me to take on the next chapter of my career. I am proud of what I have accomplished, especially while serving as Chief Justice. At the time I joined the Court, it was marked by acrimony. When I became Chief Justice, we proved that good people who may differ in their opinions can come together and accomplish important things for the people we serve – and we do it amicably,” Young said.

Young served three years on the Michigan Court of Appeals and 18 on the Michigan Supreme Court, including six years as Chief Justice. During that time, Young said the Court focused on improving service to the public by measuring performance, streamlining processes, and utilizing technology to cut costs and better serve people.

It was also a time of eliminating wasteful bureaucracy and  even reducing the number of judges throughout the state where there was declining workload.

“I will be returning to the firm that opened its arms to me 30 years ago. I look forward to  focusing on an appellate practice at Dickinson Wright and helping grow this part of the firm,”

Young continued. “I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Michigan,  but I’ve always believed that sometimes you just know when it’s time to move on to another challenge.”

Under Young, the Michigan Supreme Court emphasized respect for the Rule of Law and the role of the judiciary in a constitutional republic. That reputation and legacy has been recognized nationally, including notable comments in the Wall Street Journal praising its traditional view of the judicial role.

Young highlighted what he described as “some simple, but very important things that were accomplished by making the public our first priority.”

These include:

• Reducing the size of the judiciary to fit the courts’ declining workload and thereby saving taxpayers over $15 million so far.

• Imposing performance standards on every judge and every court in order to improve services.

• Surveying the public who come to the courts. The surveys have shown a  consistently  high level of satisfaction, with the public saying they were treated with respect and their cases were handled fairly and on a timely basis.

• Expanding the number of “problem solving” courts to address specific issues facing veterans and those having problems with alcohol and drugs.  The results show reduced return offenders and an increased rate of employment for those involved in court programs.

• Using technology to permit online traffic ticket review and virtual prisoner transports. This has significantly reduced costs, increased efficiency, and helped keep the public and law enforcement safer.

• Introducing one of the nation’s best and most used online legal help systems to provide assistance to those who do not have lawyers.

“Government doesn’t have to be broken and it doesn’t have to be toxic. I believe we showed that in recent years on the Michigan Supreme Court, and I’m extremely proud of the role I played. I also have a deep amount of respect for my fellow Justices and have appreciated their support throughout the years,” Young concluded.

Several Justices have left the Court prior to the end of their term. In recent years, Maura Corrigan, Conrad Mallett, Elizabeth Weaver, Dennis Archer, and Mary Beth Kelly left before their terms were completed. 

Gov. Rick Snyder commented, “Justice Young’s time on the Supreme Court will long be remembered for how he brought people together to discuss how the judicial branch could better serve the people of Michigan. He helped make the court system more affordable and more accessible for all Michiganders. And he was a leader in the formation of a specialty court system that has helped address the cause of people’s crimes to prevent future offenses. His steadfast leadership of the judiciary in Michigan will be missed but never forgotten and I wish him well on the next chapter in his outstanding career.”

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley also commented. “Justice Young has faithfully stood for the rule of law on the Michigan Supreme Court every day of his tenure.  His leadership strengthened Michigan’s highest court, exemplifying what it means to uphold our Constitution and achieve justice for Michiganders. Thank you, Justice Young, for making the people of Michigan proud and we wish you well in your future endeavors,” he said.

Gov. Snyder will now work to review and consider possible candidates to appoint to Justice Young’s seat, with the goal of minimizing any gap that might occur should a new justice not be appointed prior to Justice Young’s retirement date of April 30.