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Gov. Rick Snyder appoints Joan L. Larsen to Michigan Supreme Court

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015

LANSING, Mich. -- Joan L. Larsen, a University of Michigan legal expert with experience with the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Justice Department, was appointed today to the Michigan Supreme Court by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Larsen, of Scio Township, fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Justice Mary Beth Kelly.

“Joan is a superb attorney who brings experience from the highest levels of government, private practice and academia to the state’s highest court,” Snyder said. “She is highly regarded by her peers, and is a nationally recognized constitutional scholar. I’m confident she’ll be an invaluable addition to the Michigan Supreme Court.”

Larsen serves as law professor and special counsel to the dean at the University of Michigan Law School. Before that, she was deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. She has also taught at Northwestern University School of Law. Larsen began her career as a law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  She then served as law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for two years. She followed her clerkship into private practice with the law firm Sidley & Austin in Washington, D.C.

Larsen has written extensively on the Constitution, international law, the judicial system, and separation of powers. She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Bar Association of the District of Columbia. Larsen earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa in 1990 and received her law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in 1993, ranking first in her class. 

Supreme Court justices serve eight-year terms. Incoming Justice Larsen will have to seek election in 2016 for the remainder of Justice Kelly’s term that expires at the end of 2018, and could run in 2018 for a full eight-year term.

Larsen is married to Adam Pritchard and the couple has two children, Elizabeth “Liza,” age 15, and Benjamin “Ben”, age10.

Under Article VI, Section 23 of the state constitution, the appointment belongs to the governor alone.