Judicial Spotlight: Christopher M. Murray, Michigan Court of Appeals
Christopher M. Murray
What has been your most memorable case (in practice and/or as a judge)?
Wayne County v Hathcock, as I wrote a concurring opinion pointing out the deficiencies in the Supreme Court’s Poletown case (eminent domain). The Supreme Court granted leave and reversed Poletown.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Fishing – anytime, anywhere!
Who was the most influential person in your life/profession?
My stepfather. A lawyer for over 50 years, who always treated the practice of law as a profession.
What’s the most unusual thing in your desk drawer?
What has been the most difficult decision you have had to make as a judge?
Probably a change of domicile motion when I was in the trial court, as it was one good parent attempting to move the high-school age child across the country, and away from another good parent. It is tough making those family decisions for others.
Do you have a pet peeve when on the bench?
Not really, but I do prefer that attorneys get to the major points of their case during oral argument.
What advice would you give to litigants before you?
Prepare a good brief – briefs are what win a case on appeal.
Do you have any advice for new lawyers or law students?
Work hard, get involved with bar associations, and treat others like you want to be treated.
Football, Hockey, Baseball or Basketball (or other)?
Hockey, since I had to choose. Love all sports.
What is your favorite music?
How would you finish this sentence: “If I was no longer on the bench I would be…?”
. . . very sad.
What law school did you attend? Did you “enjoy” the experience and can you share your fondest memory?
University of Detroit and I loved it! Fondest memories are starting the Federalist Society chapter, playing on the hockey team, and the debates in constitutional law.
Before becoming a judge where did you practice?
Keller Thoma, then in Detroit.
Did you have any mentors as you gained experience in the law and practice?
Terry Miglio, Bob Lusk and Lucille Taylor.
How old where you when you had the worst hair cut ever and what style was it?
Currently (52), it has never really changed (just gray now).
What was the hardest part of transitioning from law practice to being a judge?
Nothing, it was all wonderful!
Do you take an active role in assisting parties in settlement discussions? Do you prefer independent facilitation/mediation?
If you could be any animal what would it be and why?
A bison in Wyoming or Montana. Protected animal living in the most beautiful part of our nation.
Do you prefer attorneys to remain at the lectern in trials if they are speaking or questioning?
I did when I was a trial court judge. And at the Court of Appeals, it is mandatory!
Without embarrassing anyone, do you have a memorable courtroom gaffe of yours or an attorney you can share?
When I was a new trial court judge in the family division, the parties left the courtroom and a fracas started in the hallway. I was so mad and frustrated – so much so that I left the bench to head out into the hallway. Fortunately, my secretary and bailiff stopped me!