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Snyder appoints Zahra to Supreme Court

Cites judicial experience, respect for the rule of law as reasons for pick

Monday, Jan. 10, 2011

Contact: Geralyn Lasher

LANSING, MI - Governor Rick Snyder today announced he will appoint the Honorable Brian Zahra to replace Justice Maura Corrigan on the state Supreme Court.

Corrigan recently announced she is stepping down from the court to serve as director of the Department of Human Services. Zahra's appointment will take effect Friday, Jan. 14 at noon.

"Judge Zahra's sixteen years of judicial experience and his razor sharp intelligence will make him an outstanding addition to the court," Snyder said. "His integrity and consistent legal philosophy that judges are to interpret laws, not make them, gives me confidence that he will respect our system of checks and balances while upholding the rule of law."

Zahra, of Northville Township, has served on the Michigan Court of Appeals since 1999 as one of 28 intermediate appellate court judges where he was responsible for research and writing opinions on matters involving both criminal and civil law. He has served on numerous committees on the Court of Appeals and served two years as the Chief Judge Pro Tem. 

"I am honored and humbled to be asked to serve," said Zahra. "I intend to follow in the tradition of Justice Corrigan - a tradition of following the Rule of Law and respecting the principles of limited government laid out in our state and federal Constitutions. These are the principles that have guided me throughout my judicial career and I look forward applying them as a member of Michigan's Supreme Court." 

Prior to serving on the appeals court, Zahra spent four years as a Wayne County Third Circuit Court judge. In 2006 he received Jurist of the Year from the Police Officers' Association of Michigan.

Snyder said Zahra is well-regarded in the legal community.

"Brian's legal reasoning abilities and depth of understanding of Michigan law are virtually unmatched," Snyder said.

Zahra earned a Bachelor of General Studies degree from Wayne State University in 1984, a degree he earned after paying his way through college by opening a successful health and beauty-aid store in downtown Detroit, which he later expanded into a full grocery store. He then went on to earn his J.D. from the University of Detroit School of Law, where he graduated Cum Laude in 1987.

Zahra clerked for the Honorable Lawrence Zatkoff in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan before going on to practice law and eventually become partner at Dickinson, Wright, Moon, Van Dusen & Freeman. 

Today, Zahra is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, and serves on the Michigan Board of Law Examiners. He has also taught evidence law as an adjunct professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Zahra has long advocated against domestic violence, having served on the Domestic Violence Legislation Implementation Task Force and on the advisory committee for the Michigan Judicial Institute Domestic Violence Bench Book. 

Zahra and his wife Suzanne have two children.