Bridget Mary McCormack

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Bridget McCormack
Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court
Assumed office
January 9, 2019
Preceded byStephen Markman
Succeeded byBeth Clement (Designate)
Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court
Assumed office
January 1, 2013
Preceded byMarilyn Jean Kelly
Succeeded byKyra Harris Bolden (Designate)
Personal details
Born (1966-07-23) July 23, 1966 (age 56)
Plainfield, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseSteven P. Croley
RelativesMary McCormack (sister)
Will McCormack (brother)
EducationTrinity College, Connecticut (BA)
New York University (JD)

Bridget Mary McCormack (born July 23, 1966) is an American lawyer, professor, and judge, serving on the Michigan Supreme Court since 2013, and as Chief Justice of Michigan since 2019. Previously she was a professor at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, where she taught criminal law and legal ethics and oversaw the law school's clinical programs as associate dean of clinical affairs. Her academic work focused on practical experience in legal education.[1] McCormack launched and worked in a pediatric advocacy law clinic focusing on children with health problems, and a domestic violence clinic. She plans to retire from the Supreme Court at the end of 2022.


The older sister of actress Mary and filmmaker Will, McCormack grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey[2] and graduated from Wardlaw-Hartridge School in 1984.[3] She received her Bachelor of Arts with honors in political science and philosophy from Trinity College in Connecticut in 1988. She received her Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden Scholar, in 1991.[1]


McCormack started her legal career in New York, first as trial counsel at the Legal Aid Society and then at the Office of the Appellate Defender. She taught at Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut as a Robert M. Cover Fellow from 1997 to 1998.

She joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School in 1998,[4] and became associate dean of clinical affairs in 2003. As associate dean for clinical affairs at the law school, McCormack supervised students in complex federal litigation in the general clinical program. McCormack also worked to expand Michigan Law School's clinical offerings during her tenure.[citation needed]

In 2008, McCormack founded the Michigan Innocence Clinic, which is the nation's first innocence clinic to focus on non-DNA evidence.[5][1][4]

McCormack has published articles on constitutional law, criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, and legal ethics.[6] McCormack served on the Association of American Law Schools Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure. In 2008, she testified before the Detroit City Council about its investigation of the city attorney's role in the case involving former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.[6]

Michigan Supreme Court[edit]

2012 election[edit]

In 2012, McCormack ran for a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court. She ran an independent outsider campaign, and was not a favorite of the Michigan Democratic Party establishment, though she ultimately received the party's endorsement.[7]

Her campaign included an advertisement encouraging voters to complete the non-partisan section of the ballot where this seat was listed, and also promoting her qualifications.[8] The ad featured a reunion of much of the principal cast of The West Wing in their former roles, including McCormack's sister Mary.

During the campaign, the Judicial Crisis Network released an ad claiming that McCormack had "volunteered to help free a terrorist" when she represented Abdumuqit Vohidov, who had been held without charge in Guantanamo. Andrew Rosenthal of The New York Times criticized the ad as exploitative, pointing out that Vohidov was released by a non-judicial board, and questioning whether he should be described as a "terrorist".[9]

McCormack was elected, along with incumbents Stephen Markman and Brian Zahra.[10][11]

Chief Justice[edit]

In 2019 Markman stepped down from the position as chief justice, and McCormack was chosen by the members of the court to succeed him.[12] This was the first time in the state's history that the governor (Gretchen Whitmer), attorney general (Dana Nessel), secretary of state (Jocelyn Benson), chief justice (McCormack) were all women.[13]

McCormack was re-elected in 2020 for a second eight-year term on the Supreme Court.[14] However, she announced in September 2022 that she would retire by the end of the year,[15] to take over as president and CEO of the American Arbitration Association.[16]

Personal life[edit]

McCormack's father is a former United States Marine and retired small business owner, and her mother is a clinical social worker. McCormack's sister Mary is an actress. Her brother Will is an actor and screenwriter.[17]

McCormack is married to University of Michigan Law School professor Steven P. Croley, who served as general counsel in the United States Department of Energy from 2014 to 2017, while on leave from the law school.[18] The couple have four children.[17]


  1. ^ a b c Faculty Bio: Bridget Mary McCormack Archived 2012-09-24 at the Wayback Machine, University of Michigan Law School.
  2. ^ Kuras, Amy. "Mom Bridget Mary McCormack Lays Down the Law", Metro Parent for Southeast Michigan, August 27, 2012. Accessed March 17, 2021. "She grew up in Plainfield, N.J., with a mom who went back to school to be a social worker when her kids were nearly grown – and a dad who was a Marine and a small business owner who worked seven days a week his entire life. They were very supportive of all three children, McCormack says – though she’s the only one to pursue law. Her sister is the actress Mary McCormack, currently starring in the USA Network TV show In Plain Sight, and her brother Will is an actor and screenwriter whose movie he co-wrote with actress Rashida Jones, Celeste and Jesse Forever, was just released."
  3. ^ Staff. "Wardlaw-Hartridge honors alumni at awards ceremony", Courier News, November 13, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2022, via "Bridget McCormack of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the first female state supreme court justice in the state of Michigan, received the Distinguished Alumna Award. Her close childhood friend, Dr. Corinna Crafton of Edison, W-H Middle School coordinator, made the introductory presentation for Justice McCormack, who graduated from Wardlaw-Hartridge in 1984."
  4. ^ a b Shahin, Peter; Goldberg, Haley (November 7, 2012). "McCormack, Markman to assume seats on state Supreme Court". Michigan Daily.
  5. ^ Munslow, Amy (February 18, 2009). "Innocence Clinic defends wronged prisoners". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Faculty bios: Bridget M. McCormack". Michigan University School of Law. Archived from the original on 2005-09-23. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  7. ^ Lessenberry, Jack. "Commentary: Time for a new democratic chair?". Retrieved 2016-12-07.
  8. ^ "How Michigan judicial candidate Bridget Mary McCormack got 'The West Wing' cast for her campaign video". The Washington Post. September 20, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  9. ^ Andrew Rosenthal (2012-11-01). "Everyone Deserves Legal Representation". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2012-11-02.
  10. ^ "Election results 2012: Michigan Supreme Court stays conservative; 2 incumbents win along with 1 newcomer". Michigan Live. 2012-11-07. Archived from the original on 2012-11-10. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  11. ^ John Wisely (2012-11-07). "Republican-nominated justices led in their races to maintain control of the Michigan Supreme Court". Lansing State Journal. Archived from the original on 2012-11-07.
  12. ^ "Bridget McCormack named chief justice of Michigan Supreme Court".
  13. ^ "Bridget McCormack elected Supreme Court Chief Justice". 9 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Partisan make-up of Michigan Supreme Court flips from GOP to Dems after Tuesday vote".
  15. ^ "Chief Justice McCormack to Retire from Michigan Supreme Court". Michigan Judiciary.
  16. ^ "AAA® Announces Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack as New President and CEO, Effective February 2023". Cision US.
  17. ^ a b How Michigan judicial candidate Bridget Mary McCormack got 'The West Wing' cast for her campaign video, Washington Post, September 20, 2012.
  18. ^ "Steven Croley | Department of Energy". Retrieved 2016-12-07.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Beth Clement