Skip to main content

Justice Corrigan to serve as champion for children and families

Will serve as director of Department of Human Services, group executive

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011

Contact: Geralyn Lasher

LANSING, MI - Governor Rick Snyder today announced that Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan 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.  Justice Corrigan submitted her letter of resignation from the Michigan Supreme Court to Governor Snyder and it will take effect at noon on Jan. 14, 2011.

"I am honored that Justice Corrigan has agreed to serve as director of Human Services," Snyder said.  "Justice Corrigan's unwavering commitment to children and families and her unstoppable determination make her the ideal person to lead this agency out of its difficulties.  Maura Corrigan will bring her collaborative and open approach to the job and begin a productive dialogue with the people we serve."

The Department of Human Services serves as Michigan's public assistance, child and family welfare agency.  It directs the operations of public assistance and service programs through a statewide network of over 100 county departments of human service offices. 

"It has been a great privilege to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court and I have the highest respect for my fellow justices," Corrigan said.  "But as Governor Snyder told us, we have an opportunity to reinvent Michigan and leave no one behind.  My passion has been protecting children and the vulnerable.  I started the first Michigan Adoption Day seven years ago and last year we finalized the greatest number of adoptions in our state's history.  We now have special dockets that find children who have gone missing from foster care and we make it easier for grandparents and other relatives to be guardians for kids who need loving, safe homes.  We have made great progress, but much work remains and I look forward to this amazing chance to serve the people of Michigan in this new capacity."

The state's child welfare system currently operates under a federal court consent decree overseen by a court appointed monitor, but Snyder has committed to both the federal judge and monitor that fixing Michigan's child welfare system is a top priority for the administration. 

Under Justice Corrigan's leadership, 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 served on the Michigan Supreme Court since 1999, including four years from 2001 to 2005 as chief justice.  She graduated with honors from Marygrove College and the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law.  She served as a law clerk on the Michigan Court of Appeals, a Wayne County assistant prosecutor and 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.

Justice Corrigan has participated in numerous community and professional activities.  She was appointed to the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care and chosen as a vice-president of the Conference of Chief Justices.  She was appointed to the Michigan Law Revision Commission, the Sixth Circuit Attorney Advisory Committee, and the Rules Committee of the U.S. District Court in Detroit.  She volunteered on the board of Boysville of Michigan (now Holy Cross).  She currently is a director of Vista Maria in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.  She has been president of the Incorporated Society of Irish American Lawyers, the Federal Bar Association in Detroit, and MSU Inns of Court.

Justice Corrigan has won numerous awards 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); Michigan Family Support Council Judicial Award (2006); Police Officers Association of Michigan Jurist of the Year Award (2006); Vista Maria's Child Advocate of the Year Award (2005); the Congressional Coalition on Adoption "Angels in Adoption" Award (2005); the Detroit News Michiganian of the Year Award (2005); the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (OCS) Award for significant improvements to Michigan's Child Support Enforcement Program (2002); the Federal Bar Association's Leonard Gilman Award to the Outstanding Practitioner of Criminal Law (1989); and the U.S. Department of Justice Director's Award for Outstanding Performance as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (1985).  

Justice Corrigan was named the Outstanding Alumna of UD-Mercy Law School and Marygrove College.  She has coauthored a treatise on civil procedure and has published many articles in professional journals and books, including the Ave Maria Law Review, Wayne Law Review, University of Toledo Law Review, NYU Law Review and the Texas Review of Law and Politics.  She has taught as an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School, at programs for the Michigan Judicial Institute, the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, and the Attorney General's Advocacy Institute.

Once Justice Corrigan begins her role as Director, Acting Director Duane Berger will become Chief Deputy Director of the department.  Dudley Spade and Brian Rooney will continue to serve in deputy director roles.