James L. Ryan

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For an actor, see James Leo Ryan (actor).
James Ryan
James L. Ryan.JPG
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Assumed office
January 1, 2000
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
In office
October 17, 1985 – January 1, 2000
Appointed by Ronald Reagan
Preceded by George Edwards
Succeeded by Raymond Kethledge
Personal details
Born (1932-11-19) November 19, 1932 (age 83)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Alma mater University of Detroit

James Leo Ryan (born November 19, 1932, in Detroit, Michigan) is a former Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.


Judge Ryan grew up in Detroit and graduated from Detroit Catholic Central High School. He earned B.A. and law degree from the University of Detroit.

Following his graduation from the University of Detroit School of Law in 1956, Judge Ryan served as a Law Specialist in the United States Navy and was assigned to the Judge Advocate General (JAG) and duty with the United States Marine Corps. Upon his release from active duty in 1960, he continued to serve in the JAG Corps. of the United States Naval Reserve, and, in 1992, retired from the Naval Reserve as a Military Judge with the rank of captain.

Before his career in the judiciary, Judge Ryan was engaged in the private practice of law. In 1963, Judge Ryan served as a Justice of the Peace for Redford Township. In 1966, he was elected to the Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan. In 1975, Governor William G. Milliken appointed Judge Ryan to the Michigan Supreme Court, where he served as the 89th Justice, until his appointment in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He assumed senior status in 2000 and served as a senior judge until his retirement on September 3, 2010.

Judge Ryan has extensive teaching experience. He has served as an adjunct professor of law at Ave Maria School of Law, the University of Detroit School of Law, and the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He has lectured on Evidence, Criminal Procedure, and Constitutional Law at those institutions and at state and federal judicial training sessions in thirty states. He has served as a faculty member of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, and the Appellate Judges Conference of the American Bar Association. Judge Ryan has been awarded four Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees.


Judge Ryan is a Knight of Malta. He is also involved with Angels' Place, an organization that provides residential living facilities to developmentally impaired adults.


Judge Ryan was married for fifty years to the late Mary Elizabeth Ryan. Among their children is Judge Daniel P. Ryan, judge for the 3rd Circuit Court for Wayne County (Detroit) and author of "Ryan's Essential Evidence Outlines." The judge is currently married to Loretta Nagle Ryan, a widow. Their blended families comprise 10 adult children and 41 grandchildren, all living in Michigan.

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Legal offices
Preceded by
George Edwards
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Succeeded by
Raymond Kethledge