Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. is the longest
serving member of the Court. He served
as Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court for an unprecedented three
two-year terms, ending January 6, 2017. First selected by his colleagues in
2011 to lead the Court, Young was dedicated to transforming our state’s court
system into a more efficient and customer-focused institution, noting
that: “Our goal is for Michigan’s judiciary to be a national model of
efficiency and service to the public.”
As Chief Justice, he promoted
initiatives to measure judicial performance, track public satisfaction, adopt
best practices, and implement technologies that expand public access, increase
efficiency and boost productivity of trial courts. “You can’t get a cup of
coffee without being asked to provide your opinion about customer service,”
Young noted. “I believe courts should take the same approach to
consulting the public so that good work can be recognized and problem areas
addressed.” As a result of this initiative, more than 100,000 court users were
surveyed, and the vast majority said they were treated with dignity and respect
and were satisfied with the timeliness and fairness of the disposition of their
During his tenure as
Chief Justice, the Court committed to “rightsizing” Michigan’s judiciary so
that it cost citizens no more than necessary for the efficient administration
of justice. To this end, during Justice Young’s tenure as Chief, 26
judgeships were cut, saving taxpayers nearly $15 million over the past 6 years,
and 14 more judgeship are slated for elimination. The cumulative effect
will be a 7 percent reduction in the total number of judges statewide and $175
million in savings to taxpayers.
Young also supported the implementation of
innovative technologies to help courts work smarter. This includes a recently
completed plan to install videoconferencing equipment in every Michigan
courtroom, allowing thousands of hearings to be held in "virtual” courtrooms,
saving transportation costs and avoiding the security risks of transporting
prisoners. In addition, major initiatives were launched to upgrade
case management systems for trial courts and to implement statewide e-filing.
A graduate of Harvard
College and Harvard Law School, Young joined Dickinson, Wright, Moon, Van Dusen
& Freeman in 1978, becoming partner in 1982. He became vice
president, corporate secretary, and general counsel of AAA Michigan in 1992,
prior to joining the Court of Appeals in 1995. After being appointed to the
Supreme Court in 1999, Young was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2010 to a
term ending on January 1, 2019.
Young has served on
the boards of many charitable groups, including the Detroit Urban League,
United Community Services of Metropolitan Detroit, and Vista Maria, a resource
center for abused and neglected young women and girls. Justice Young was a commissioner
of the Michigan Civil Service Commission, and a trustee of Central Michigan
University, University Liggett School, and the Grosse Pointe Academy. He is a
former chair of the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce “Leadership Detroit.”
Justice Young was named
Lawyer of the Year in 2012 and Michiganian of the Year in 2016. He has been awarded honorary degrees by
Central Michigan University and Michigan State University College of law and
named “Alumnus of the Year” by Detroit Country Day School. Young was an adjunct
professor of Wayne State Law School for more than 20 years and now teaches at
Michigan State University Law School. He serves on the United States
Supreme Court Standing Committee
on Rules of Practice and Procedure and is the author of several law review articles.
The father of two
sons, Young has been married to Dr. Linda Hotchkiss for more than 40
“A Judicial Traditionalist Confronts Unique Questions of State Constitutional Law Adjudication,” 76 Albany L Rev 1947 (2012/2013)
“Active Liberty and the Problem of Judicial Oligarchy,” in The Supreme Court and the Idea of Constitutionalism (Kautz, Melzer, Weinberger & Zinman, Eds., University of Pennsylvania Press 2009).
“A Judicial Traditionalist Confronts Justice Brennan’s School of Judicial Philosophy,” 33 Okla. City U. L. Rev. 263 (2008).
“A Judicial Traditionalist Confronts the Common Law,” 8 Texas Review of Law & Politics, 299 (2004).
Lang, Neilson, Young & Holsinger, Eds., Michigan Civil Procedure, (Michigan Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 1999).
Young and Kopka, Eds., Michigan Civil Procedure During Trial, 2d Ed. (Michigan Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 1989).
Lang, Young & Beckering, Eds., Michigan Civil Procedure, (Michigan Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 2d Ed, 2012).