Justice Griffin served in the U.S. Army before returning to attend law school at the University of Michigan, where he graduated in 1950. He began his legal career as a law clerk for Michigan Supreme Court Justice John Dethmers, before moving to Traverse City where he practiced law until 1956. That year, Griffin was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 1966, and was re-elected in 1972. Griffin later returned to Michigan to practice law before his election to the Michigan Supreme Court, where he served from 1987 to 1994. He received many honors over the years, including the State Bar of Michigan’s Frank Kelley Distinguished Public Service award in 2003.
State Bar of Michigan Executive Director Janet Welch, who was a law clerk for Justice Griffin, applauded Griffin’s distinguished legal and political career, and in particular his impact on young lawyers.
"In his tenure on the Michigan Supreme Court, Justice Griffin was a wonderful role model for new lawyers, embodying integrity, thoughtfulness, and dispassionate, meticulous legal reasoning,” she said.
State Bar President Tom Rombach agreed, noting that the Michigan legal community was fortunate to have an ambassador like Griffin.
“Justice Griffin was known in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country for his integrity, sense of fairness, and ability to solve problems,” Rombach said. “He loved Michigan and the practice of law, and we were very lucky to have him in our corner. He will be missed.”
A viewing is scheduled at the Robert P. Griffin Hall of Justice, 280 Washington St., Traverse City from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday. A funeral service will be held at noon Tuesday at the First Congregational Church, 6105 Center Rd., Traverse City. Funeral arrangements will be handled by the Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home in Traverse City.
Posted by Lynn Ingram