Corrigan honored for commitment to public service


By Steve Thorpe
Legal News

Last year Justice Maura Corrigan left the Michigan Supreme Court to become director of the Michigan Department of Human Services.

The change was in keeping with her “lifetime commitment to public service and the welfare of Michigan’s families and children,” as the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association (DMBA) said in announcing that she will be honored with the Dennis W. Archer Award.

Each year, the DMBA Foundation presents the Archer Award for outstanding public service to a member of the legal profession from the metropolitan Detroit area.

The honoree will have established a career dedicated to the betterment of the profession and the community.

This year’s gala will be hosted at the Detroit Wayne County Port Authority on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m.

When Gov. Rick Snyder announced Corrigan’s appointment as director of the Michigan Department of Human Services last January, he said “Justice Corrigan’s unwavering commitment to children and families and her unstoppable determination make her the ideal person to lead this agency out of its difficulties.

“Maura Corrigan will bring her collaborative and open approach to the job, “he said, “and begin a productive dialogue with the people we serve.”

The Department of Human Services serves as Michigan’s public assistance, child and family welfare agency.

The agency directs the operations of public assistance and service programs through a statewide network of more than 100 county departments of human service offices.

“My passion has been protecting children and the vulnerable,” Corrigan said at the time of her appointment to head the agency. “We have made great progress, but much work remains and I look forward to this amazing chance to serve the people of Michigan in this new capacity.”

Corrigan served on the Michigan Supreme Court beginning in 1999, including as chief justice from 2001 to 2005. Graduating with honors from Marygrove College, she went on to the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

She was a law clerk on the Michigan Court of Appeals, a Wayne County assistant prosecutor and an assistant United States attorney, ultimately becoming chief assistant U.S. attorney. Corrigan became a partner at the Detroit law firm of Plunkett & Cooney in 1989.

Appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1992, she became chief judge of that 28-judge court in 1997 and was first elected to the Supreme Court in 1998.

Corrigan has been honored with dozens of awards including the Federal Bar Association’s Leonard Gilman Award to the Outstanding Practitioner of Criminal Law (1989),
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Innovative Partnerships (OCS) Award (2008), and the Oakland County Champion of Children Award (2010)
She was also named the Outstanding Alumna of University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and Marygrove College.

Corrigan has authored many articles in professional journals and books, including the Ave Maria Law Review, Wayne Law Review, University of Toledo Law Review, NYU Law Review and the Texas Review of Law and Politics.

In addition to time as an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School, she has taught programs for the Michigan Judicial Institute, the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, and the Attorney General’s Advocacy Institute.

Attorney Dennis Archer, after whom the award is named, served on the Michigan Supreme Court and was mayor of Detroit from 1993 to 2001.

He later served as president of the American Bar Association, becoming the first African-American president of the organization.