Mary Beth Kelly, Retired Justice, Michigan Supreme Court

T: 313-872-1100
F: 313-872-1101


Available nationwide

Mary Beth Kelly, Retired Justice, Michigan Supreme Court, joins JAMS as a 16 year veteran of Michigan courts, including serving on the Michigan Supreme Court from 2011 to 2015.  During her tenure with the Supreme Court, Ms. Kelly authored significant decisions on administrative and election matters, and served as an important administrative liaison on family, veteran’s and child welfare matters for the Court. 

Prior to joining the Michigan Supreme Court, she served as Chief Judge of the Wayne County Circuit Court for three terms, where she remains the only woman in history to hold the position. During her time as Chief Judge, the Family Division of the court doubled in size, and she led efforts to improve the racial diversity of the jury system.  As Chief Judge, she presided over the complex tax foreclosure docket for Wayne County, implementing significant reform to that docket and to the Family Court procedures, both to facilitate mediated results. 

Before becoming a judge, Ms. Kelly worked as a lawyer and commercial litigation partner at a major Detroit law firm, primarily working on class action litigation. She has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Detroit-Mercy Law School and chaired many statewide committees that focused on family and child welfare matters. 

ADR Experience and Qualifications
Ms. Kelly has extensive experience as an advocate, judge and arbitrator in the following areas:

  • Administrative Law
  • Antitrust
  • Appellate
  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Civil Rights
  • Employment
  • Energy
  • Family Law

Representative Matters

  • Administrative Law
    • Arbitrator in a dispute concerning the construction, supply and maintenance of an energy contract.  Authored acclaimed dissent in Detroit Edison Company v. Department of Treasury, 498 Mich 28, (2015) (Analysis of energy industry in Michigan and tax consequences); Found a city nuisance demolition ordinance comports with substantive and procedural due process in Bonner v. City of Brighton, 495 Mich 209 (2014) (authored).
  • Antitrust
    • Litigated many antirust and trade class action matters; authored important trade opinions, including LaFontaine Saline v. Chrysler Group LLC, 496 Mich 26 (2014) (Rejecting argument for geographical limitations in new markets based on letter of intent).
  • Appellate
    • Regularly consults and evaluates appeals; participates in mock arguments for all levels of appellate practice.
  • Business/Commercial
    • Arbitrated and mediated various commercial and contractual disputes, including: arbitrator in a breach of contract action concerning the provision of financial services for banking institutions; arbitrator in dispute between OEM and supplier; arbitrator in real estate dispute; mediator in dispute between OEM and supplier.
  • Employment
    • Facilitated an employment dispute concerning a university and an employee. Authored landmark employment decisions, including Henry v. Laborers’’ Local 1191, 495 Mich 260 (2014) (Whistleblowers’ Protection Act claims preempted by the National Labor Relations Act and must be tried before the National Labor Relations Board); Whitman v. City of Burton, 493 Mich 303 (2013) (Plaintiff’s motivation not relevant under Whistleblowers’ Protection Act); and Hamed v. Wayne County, 490 Mich 1, (2011) (analysis finding no respondeat superior liability for sexual harassment under Civil Rights Act)
  • Family Law
    • Settled and mediated hundreds of cases while presiding over a domestic relations state court docket.  Particularly qualified to evaluate high asset estate and business valuations.
  • Government/Public Agency
    • Facilitated numerous disputes, including disputes with bargaining units, over funding and other public issues.

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Honors
    • Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, University of Michigan-Dearborn, 2015
    • 2006 Law Dragon 500 Best Judges in the Country
    • Vista Maria’s Child Advocate of the Year, 2004
    • Distinguished Leadership, Arab-America Anti-Discrimination Committee, 2004
  • Memberships & Professional Activities
    • Chair, Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice, 2015-2018
    • Member, Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ) (Advises the President and Congress on matters related to juvenile justice), 2016-2018
    • Director of the Board, Vista Maria, an organization that serves at-risk girls, young women involved in human trafficking and youth in child protection or juvenile justice systems
    • Member, Law School Advisory Board and Dean’s Advisory Board, University of Detroit-Mercy Law School
    • Co-Chair, 21st Century Practice Task Force’s Modernizing and Regulatory Machinery Task Force Committee, State Bar of Michigan

Background and Education

  • Member, Bodman PLC, 2015-2016
    • Vice-Chair, Litigation and ADR Practice Group
  • Justice, Supreme Court of Michigan, 2011-2015
  • Judge, Wayne County Circuit Court, 1999-2010
    • Chief Judge, 2002-2007
  • Partner, Commercial Litigation, Dickinson Wright, 1987-1999
  • J.D., Notre Dame Law School
  • A.B., University of Michigan-Dearborn


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

Kelly_Mary Beth_GeneralBiography_1252