DETROIT, Mich. – University of Detroit Mercy School of Law alumni Justice Maura Corrigan (’73) and Hon. Brian Zahra (’87) were appointed to key positions by Governor Rick Snyder this week.
Effective at noon on January 14, Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan (’73) will serve as Director of the Michigan Department of Human Services. She will also serve as Group Executive for the “People” group, which includes the departments of Human Services, Community Health, Civil Rights and Education.
The Department of Human Services serves as Michigan’s public assistance, child and family welfare agency. “My passion has been protecting children and the vulnerable,” Corrigan said. Under her leadership in the courtroom, lawyer guardians ad litem were required to sign affidavits stating that they had met with the children they represented to ensure children were properly represented in legal proceedings. She was instrumental in the conversion to the Michigan Child Support Enforcement System which saved the state approximately $40 million.
Justice Corrigan has served on the Michigan Supreme Court since 1999, including four years from 2001 to 2005 as Chief Justice. While at UDM Law, she was active in the Urban Law Clinic and was elected the first woman President of the Student Bar Association. After completing law school, she served as a law clerk on the Michigan Court of Appeals, a Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor and as an Assistant United States Attorney, ultimately becoming Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney. She became a partner at the Detroit law firm of Plunkett Cooney in 1989. She was appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1992, and became Chief Judge of that 28-judge court in 1997. She was first elected to the Supreme Court in 1998.
In 2004, Justice Corrigan was named Alumna of the Year by UDM Law. She has won numerous other awards and honors, including: Oakland County Champion of Children Award (2010); Michigan Children’s Award (2008); Powerful Women of Purpose Award (2008); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Innovative Partnerships (OCS) Award (2008); Spectrum Human Services Chairman’s Award (2006); and Michigan Family Support Council Judicial Award (2006).
Citing his judicial experience and respect for the rule of law, Governor Snyder appointed Hon. Brian Zahra (’87) to replace Justice Corrigan on the state Supreme Court. Zahra’s appointment, which will also take effect January 14 at noon, comes after serving on the Michigan Court of Appeals since 1999 as one of 28 intermediate appellate court judges.
After graduating Cum Laude from UDM Law in 1987, Zahra clerked for Hon. Lawrence Zatkoff in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan before going on to practice law and eventually become partner at Dickinson, Wright, Moon, Van Dusen & Freeman. Zahra spent four years as a Wayne County Third Circuit Court judge. He moved on to serve on the Michigan Court of Appeals, where he was responsible for research and writing opinions on matters involving both criminal and civil law. He also taught evidence law as an adjunct professor at the UDM Law.
Judge Zahra has served on numerous committees on the Court of Appeals and served two years as the Chief Judge Pro Tem. In 2006, he received Jurist of the Year from the Police Officers’ Association of Michigan. He has long advocated against domestic violence, having served on the Domestic Violence Legislation Implementation Task Force and on the advisory committee for the Michigan Judicial Institute Domestic Violence Bench Book.
The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law community congratulates and applauds Justice Corrigan and Judge Zahra on their new positions!