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Snyder Names Brian Zahra To State Supreme Court


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Gov. Rick Snyder this morning appointed state Court of Appeals Judge Brian Zahra to replace Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan, who will leave the court later this week to head up the state's Department of Human Resources.


Zahra has served on the Michigan Court of Appeals since 1999.


He is also a former Wayne County Circuit Court Judge and lives in Northville Township.


Zahra is to take office on Friday.




Brian K. Zahra is a judge on the Michigan First District Court of Appeals. Governor Engler appointed him to this position in December of 1998. His term expires on January 1, 2013.[1][2]



Judge Zahra graduated from Wayne State University in 1984 with a bachelor's degree and from the University of Detroit Law School in 1987. In law school, he served as a member of the Law Review and as Articles Editor to the State Bar of Michigan's Corporation and Finance Business Law Journal.[2][1]

Legal career


Zahra began his career in 1987 as a law clerk to Judge Zatkoff of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Two years later, he joined the Detroit law firm of Dickinson, Wright, Moon, Van Dusen & Freeman, where he later became a partner. He was appointed to the Wayne County Circuit Court (3rd Circuit Court) in 1994, where he served until his appointment to the Court of Appeals in December of 1998. In August 2004, he was nominated and ran for the Michigan Supreme Court.[2][1]

Awards and associations


Zahra has served on the Domestic Violence Legislation Implementation Task Force and the advisory committee for the Michigan Judicial Institute Domestic Violence Benchbook. He is a member of the Federalist Society and the Board of Directors of the Catholic Lawyers Society.[3]

Political affiliation



Judicial philosophy


In a referendum with the Eastside Republican Club for the November 7, 2006 General Election, Judge Zahra predicted, “This November we may well hear the question, 'Are you better off today than you were four years ago?'” Answering the question, Zahra said, “I know that, economically, we are not better off today.” He said, “One area in which I can emphatically state we are better off today than eight years ago relates to the court system.” Explaining that he shares the philosophy of Justice Maura Corrigan and the majority of the Michigan Supreme Court, Zahra said he aims to search for the rule of law and respects the separation of powers, “Leaving to the legislature the significant policy questions of the day.” With an eye to the November 7, 2006 election, he observed, “There are many special interest groups that oppose that concept.” He said, “Special interest groups have spent millions to defeat our Supreme Court, and those special interest groups are targeting me and targeting Judge Kelly for defeat.” Zahra said these groups believe they can easily influence Michigan's judiciary, because they feel people don't understand or care about those races.[4]

Court rules state program violates water act


In a 2-1 ruling, the Michigan Court of Appeals determined that the state's program for regulating large livestock and poultry farms violates the federal Clean Water Act. According to the Toledo Blade, the concentrated animal feeding operations generate manure that is spread on farm fields, and runoff can pollute nearby streams with potentially harmful bacteria found in animal waste. Judges William Whitbeck and Michael Talbot said that the state is allowing too much leniency with the farms to "determine and adopt their own rates for spreading manure."[5]

Court rejects same-sex benefits


The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Michigan Constitution in regards to health benefits to partners of same-sex couples. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, public sector employees were eligible for those benefits. According to the Detroit News, the unanimous ruling by Judges Kurtis Wilder, Joel Hoekstra and Brian Zahra struck down an earlier ruling by an Ingham County court judge in a case brought by National Pride at Work Inc. against the city of Kalamazoo. The court ruled "such arrangements violate a constitutional amendment that state voters approved in 2004 that bars public employers from recognizing same-sex unions for any purpose." Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project in New York City, said if the ruling is upheld by the Michigan Supreme Court, "Michigan will be the first state to remove health-care benefits from same-sex spouses as a result of such an amendment."[6]

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