The legal community is mourning the loss of retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley, who passed away on Saturday, October 23. She was 79.
"Justice Riley was a model of judicial integrity, keen intelligence, and personal courage," said Nancy J. Diehl, President of the State Bar of Michigan. "Michigan lawyers, especially women lawyers for whom she was a special mentor, will miss her greatly."
Riley served as Wayne County Circuit judge and was the first woman to serve as a Michigan Court of Appeals judge. She was also the second woman to become a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. She practiced law and was a partner in the firm of Riley and Roumell. Throughout her career, she was involved in a number of professional and community organizations.
Riley was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court by Governor William Milliken in late 1982, following the death of Blair Moody Jr. In 1983, she was removed from the bench when Governor James Blanchard assumed office and was held to have the right of appointment. When she ran to regain the seat, she received overwhelming support from voters in 1985, becoming the first person of Hispanic heritage to be elected to a state supreme court. She served as Chief Justice from 1987 until 1991, and retired on September 1, 1997, due to the onset of Parkinson's Disease. She was the founder and Honorary Chair of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society.
She is survived by her husband Wallace D. Riley, her son and his wife, Peter and Michelle Riley, and a grandson, Timothy John.