Justice Joan Larsen: ‘Brilliant, Principled, And Dedicated’

Law School Colleagues Praise ‘Her Commitment To The Rule Of Law And Her Capacity For Top-Flight Legal Analysis’

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), Judiciary Committee Chairman: “Justice Larsen's nomination is supported by a broad coalition of lawyers, judges, academic colleagues…. Justice Larsen began her legal career clerking for Justice Sentelle of the D.C. Circuit and Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court…. Justice Larsen has taught constitutional law and criminal law at the University of Michigan Law School since 1998, where she has earned the respect of faculty members and students alike. She won the L. Hart Wright Award for Excellence in Teaching early in her career…. Justice Larsen served as deputy assistant attorney general in the office of legal counsel, working to provide legal advice to the president and executive agencies on difficult issues of constitutional law and statutory interpretation. In 2015, Michigan Governor Snyder appointed Justice Larsen to the Michigan Supreme Court. She was elected to the position in her own right in 2016 by a resounding majority outside of the courtroom.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 9/06/2017)

Current And Former Colleagues: ‘Every Single One Of Us Agrees That She Will Be An Outstanding Federal Judge’

32 University Of Michigan Deans And Law Professors: “As longtime colleagues of Justice Joan Larsen at University of Michigan Law School, we write in our individual capacities to express enthusiastic support of her nomination for a seat on the Sixth Circuit. Justice Larsen is brilliant, principled, and dedicated. Her commitment to the rule of law and her capacity for top-flight legal analysis are both of the first order, and her personal integrity and decency are exceptional.” (32 University of Michigan Law School Deans and Professors, Letter to Sens. Stabenow and Peters, 5/08/2017)

  • “For those of us who have found ourselves on the opposite side of a debate with Joan about a case, a statute, or some broader issue of constitutional history, she has demonstrated time and again that she is both a gracious and an intellectually honest partner in the collaborative project of figuring things out. What matters for Joan is not winning, but working out the right answer. Even when you disagree with her, it is impossible not to respect her and to take pleasure in the process of refining the issues actually in dispute. And she comments generously and extensively on our work—even (or especially) work that makes arguments running directly against her own legal instincts. This generosity of spirit, assumption of good faith, and sincerity of engagement is a rare virtue. We suspect it may be her defining quality as a judge.” (32 University of Michigan Law School Deans and Professors, Letter to Sens. Stabenow and Peters, 5/08/2017)

31 Fellow Former Supreme Court And DC Circuit Law Clerks: “Joan has had a distinguished legal career with great breadth. She has served as a federal government official, a private practitioner, an academic and a state court jurist…. All of the undersigned unreservedly recommend Joan to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. We have had ample opportunity to observe her legal acumen, her integrity and her collegiality. We trust Joan to review every matter thoroughly and apply the law conscientiously to the facts at hand. As clerks who served jurists with different perspectives, many of us have had occasion to disagree with Joan on legal issues. Nonetheless, we all have confidence that she will exercise her duties with honesty, diligence, fairness, respect for divergent views, and scrupulous attention to the rule of law. We predict that, if confirmed, she will serve the Court with great distinction by producing well-reasoned judgments and clearly written opinions.” (31 Former law clerks, Letter to Sens. Grassley and Feinstein, 6/02/2017)

Michigan Attorneys Laud Justice Larsen As ‘A Shining Example Of Someone Who Truly Loves The Law And Follows Its Dictates’

VICTOR FITZ, Cass County Prosecutor: “As a career prosecutor and recent President of the Michigan Prosecutor’s Association, allow me to express my strong endorsement of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen for the United States Sixth [Circuit] Court of Appeals. Her support amongst Michigan Prosecutors is widespread and bi-partisan…. Michigan Prosecutors know that Joan Larsen treats all persons impacted by her decisions with dignity and respect. She insists upon a fair opportunity for all to be heard. When it comes to seeking justice and public safety, Michigan Prosecutors are confident that Joan Larsen will serve well at the federal level.” (Victor Fitz, Cass County Prosecutor, Letter to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 9/04/2017)

JULES B. OLSMAN, Olsman MacKenzie & Wallace: “This letter is written from the vantage point of someone who has practiced law in Michigan for 39 years. I am also a past president of the Michigan Association for Justice (formerly Michigan Trial Lawyers Association) … and a member of the State Bar Board of Commissioners. The Michigan Supreme Court had for many years become a highly politicized, dysfunctional entity marked by extremely contentious opinions and bitter personality disputes…. All this began to change dramatically … when Justice Bridget McCormack was elected in 2012 and when Justice Joan Larsen was appointed in 2015. Justice Larsen has been willing to engage with lawyers and professional organizations … and has demonstrated on the bench that she is precisely who she is in person, a genuine, thoughtful individual who respects precedent, the common law and the role that lawyers and judges play in society. I believe that Justice Larsen has demonstrated great scholarship and collegiality during her tenure on the Court that has greatly enhanced and helped to repair the functionality of the Court…. I have no hesitation in telling you that Justice Larsen will make an excellent judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.” (Jules B. Olsman, Olsman MacKenzie & Wallace, Letter to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 9/05/2017)

MARK GRANZOTTO: “I am not a Republican…. I frequently represent litigants in the Michigan Supreme Court. I have handled a substantial number of cases in that Court since Justice Joan Larsen’s appointment in 2015. I have found that Justice Larsen exhibits all of the traits that make a great appellate judge…. But what has impressed me most about her in the cases that I have argued before the Michigan Supreme Court is her curiosity. She is curious precisely because she is striving to arrive at the right decision. Justice Larsen approaches cases with an open mind and an independence from party affiliation … I believe that in only a limited amount of time, Justice Larsen has had a very positive influence on the Michigan Supreme Court. In my view, she would be a deserving addition to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.” (Mark Granzotto, P.C., Letter to Sens. Stabenow and Peters, 9/05/2017)

VALERIE NEWMAN: “I know Justice Larsen as a colleague and friend…. I work for the State Appellate Defender Office in Michigan so Joan and I often find ourselves having different opinions when it comes to criminal law. However, when I was writing my brief in a US Supreme Court case there was no person who was more helpful to me than Joan. Joan agreed to read and edit the draft brief. Her comments were the best I received from any of the dozen or so legal experts consulted in the process…. Her personal disagreement with the position I was defending had no impact on her efforts to assist me in presenting a cogent, well thought out and superbly written legal brief to the court…. She gave selflessly of herself to assist a colleague and that is just a small indication of her generosity and graciousness.” (Valerie Newman, Letter to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 9/05/2017)

  • NEWMAN: “As an advocate I have had the pleasure of appearing before Joan. As a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court she displayed the same humility, intelligence and graciousness. She has been well prepared for oral argument and an active participant. She approaches each case with an honest intellectual curiosity. In our current climate of litmus tests for judges, she is a shining example of someone who truly loves the law and follows its dictates.” (Valerie Newman, Letter to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 9/05/2017)

MARY MASSARON, Plunkett Cooney: “I write to you as an active ABA member, past chair of the Section of State and Local Government Law, past chair of the Council of Appellate Lawyers, which is part of the Appellate Judges Conference, past chair of the Appellate Advocacy Committee of TIPS, and as a past chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Amicus Curiae Briefs.I have been an appellate lawyer with a national appellate practice for many years. I have appeared in over 100 appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit…. I have appeared before the Michigan Supreme Court on several occasions since Justice Larsen was appointed as a member of that Court. And I can attest to her exceptional performance on that Court. She is always well-prepared, courteous to the advocates coming before the Court, and thoughtful in her consideration of the issues presented. Justice Larsen’s questions during oral argument reflect a keen insight into the legal issues before the Court. Often, they lead the discussion to the heart of the matter. Moreover, our Court, in recent times, has been marked by a renewed collegiality, often issuing decisions embraced by all justices or five or six of the seven currently sitting. This consensus by the justices evidences Justice Larsen’s willingness to call them as she sees them and in a nonideological or politically-motivated manner…. Finally, let me say that Justice Larsen has earned my highest praise as a jurist.” (Mary Massaron, Plunkett Cooney, Letter to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, 9/05/2017)

Fellow Elected Michigan Officials Call Justice Larsen ‘Terrific,’ ‘An Outstanding Choice,’ ‘Revered In Her Community’

GOV RICK SNYDER (R-MI): “Justice Larsen has served the people of Michigan very well as a Supreme Court Justice and is an outstanding choice for President Trump to appoint to the federal appeals court. It is disappointing that we will lose Justice Larsen on the Michigan Supreme Court because her legal expertise has been such a great asset. She deserves the nomination to the Sixth Circuit federal bench and I encourage the U.S. Senate to confirm her for that position as soon as possible.” (Gov. Snyder, Press Release, 5/08/2017)

“Joan Larsen's nomination to a federal appeals court is being praised by her colleagues at the Michigan Supreme Court. Justice Bridget McCormack has known Larsen for nearly 20 years. They arrived the same year to work at University of Michigan law school. She says it's hard to imagine anyone with a better intellect than Larsen. McCormick says she'll be ‘terrific.’ They were elected to the Supreme Court with support from different political parties. But McCormack says they share a philosophy that courts should apply the law to each case, not create it.” (“Larsen's Fellow Justices Support Nomination,” The Associated Press, 5/08/2017)

Nine Michigan Members Of The House: “We write to express our strong support for the confirmation of Justice Joan Larsen to the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals…. In 2015, Governor Rick Snyder appointed Justice Joan Larsen to the Michigan Supreme Court and during the 2016 election she was able to retain her seat on the bench while receiving the majority of votes in every Michigan county. Justice Larsen is revered in her community, amongst her colleagues, and in the great state of Michigan.” (Michigan Members of Congress, Letter to Sens. McConnell and Grassley, 7/25/2017)

Former Federal Officials: ‘We May Not All Agree With Joan On All Legal Issues, But … All Of Us Hold Her In The Highest Regard’

29 Former Federal Government Officials: “We write to express our enthusiastic support for the Honorable Joan Larsen’s nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  We have held positions in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other government agencies in Democratic and Republican administrations from President Nixon to President Obama.  As former government officials with varying ideological perspectives, we may not all agree with Joan on all legal issues, but all of us have served with her or are otherwise familiar with her work, and all of us hold her in the highest regard…. During more than 20 years of practicing and teaching law in and out of government, Joan Larsen has earned a well-deserved reputation for acumen, integrity, and judgment, as well as deep respect for the rule of law. We strongly urge her confirmation to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.” (29 Former Federal Government Officials, Letter to Sens. Grassley and Feinstein, 6/02/2017)


Related Issues: Nominations, Judicial Nominations