Supreme Court candidate visits NilesPublished 9:56pm Monday, August 20, 2012
Michigan Supreme Court candidates rarely appear on “Chelsea Lately,” but Bridget Mary McCormack’s younger sister, actress Mary (Catherine) McCormack, is a pal of comedian Chelsea Handler.
McCormack’s younger brother, Will, wrote the film “Celeste and Jesse Forever” with Rashida Jones.
McCormack, who has never been a judge, is accomplished in her own arena as a law professor and dean of clinical affairs at University of Michigan Law School.
A legal scholar who has practiced law in courts at all levels, she pledges “unwavering commitment to fairness, integrity and hard work” to protect families and children so everyone gets a fair shake in the judicial system.
“I think I can be a fresh voice,” said McCormack in Niles Monday. “I think I have the respect of both parties and can be an independent voice. Diversity of backgrounds might help break the logjam a little bit with a different perspective. I don’t think Wayne County Circuit Court is the only path.”
She received the endorsement of the state Democratic Party on March 10, the day she officially launched her campaign. Retiring Justice Marilyn Kelly endorsed her. Three seats will be decided Nov. 6.
“I have a great job already,” says the mother of four from Ann Arbor, “one of the best jobs in law. If I win, I’ll take a pay cut, give up my university tenure and job security and lose a lot of autonomy. In 2010, Michigan had the most expensive state supreme court race in the country (costing more than $10 million). That money is sometimes coming in from out-of-state and from sources that don’t have to be identified. It makes it hard for the average voter to figure out what a candidate is about, what they’ll stand for and what kind of justice they will be. Imagine if we spent that kind of money improving access to courts.”
Bridget, oldest of three children who grew up in New Jersey, is the daughter of a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who ran a small business. Her mom was a social worker.
She attended Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. — a poor city in a wealthy state — and went to New York University Law School on a scholarship.
A degree from a top U.S. law school gave McCormack lucrative career options, but she chose to work as a legal aid lawyer for five years in New York City.
Following a teacher fellowship at Yale Law School, McCormack came to Michigan in 1998 to join the U-M Law School faculty.
A published scholar and expert in legal ethics and professional responsibility, she has educated a generation of Michigan lawyers.
At U of M, McCormack built nationally-recognized programs that help Michigan citizens every day, including a domestic violence litigation clinic to help families in crisis, a pediatric health advocacy clinic to help sick children and their families, an entrepreneurship clinic to help new small businesses get off the ground and the Michigan Innocence Clinic to improve the criminal justice system so communities are safer because real crime perpetrators are brought to justice.
“I’m not from a partisan background in the sense I’ve been teaching law school for 16 years — 14 at Michigan and two at Yale,” she said. “I have a heartfelt commitment to the critical role I think everybody agrees on no matter partisan leanings: the judiciary is supposed to give everybody a fair shake no matter who you are. Public confidence in our judiciary’s independence has been undermined.”
“My Godmother lived in New York City and was a legal aid lawyer,” said McCormack, who received the Thomas M. Cooley Law School Review 2012 Distinguished Brief Award, “so I’d go to work with her. I think that’s what turned me on to the law.”
Her husband, Steven Croley, also an attorney and professor, encouraged her to run. Their four children, ages 12 to 15, attend public schools. They own a Douglas summer home in Allegan County.