The longest serving appellate jurist in Michigan’s history, retired Justice Michael F. Cavanagh joined us after 32 years of service on the Michigan Supreme Court. Cavanagh received his B.A. from the University of Detroit in 1962, and he obtained his J.D. from the University of Detroit Law School in 1966. While studying at the University of Detroit, Cavanagh worked on Great Lakes freighters shovelling coal to pay his tuition. His first job after law school was as a clerk at the Michigan Court of Appeals. Not long after that, he became the Lansing City Attorney.
In 1972, Cavanagh was elected to serve as a judge in the 54-A District Court in Lansing. Just three years later, he was the youngest person at that time to be elected to the Michigan Court of Appeals. After serving seven years on the Court of Appeals, he won a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court. He was re-elected three times, serving a total of 32 years. For four of those years, he served as chief justice. While serving as a justice, he was the liaison between the tribal and state courts.
As well as serving as a justice throughout his years, Cavanagh also held many positions as a leader for multiple local organizations. He was the president of the Incorporated Society of Irish-American Lawyers from 1987 to 1988. He was also on the Board of Directors for the American Heart Association, the Lansing YMCA, and Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
In his spare time, Cavanagh enjoys fishing and the occasional round of golf.