Retired U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan, father of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, passed away Wednesday morning, the mayor's office announced. He was 86.
The respected, no-nonsense, unprentitous judge died at 4:30 a.m. at Angela Hospice in Livonia after a long illness. Recent visitors incuded his wife Joan, four sons, daughters-in-law and 13 grandchildren.
"The mayor has spent the last few weeks splitting his time between work and spending time with his father and family, sometimes making three trips back-and-forth each day," said spokesman John Roach. "He is choosing to spend all of his time today with them."
Duggan was nominated in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan and retired as a federal judge in 2015.
He was well-regarded among defense attorneys and prosecutors.
"He was unceasingly fair, he was always fair, balanced and controlled," said criminal defense lawyer Robert Morgan, an ex-federal prosecutor.
"At the start of a trial he had one of the best rules ever spoken by a judge: He said 'there will be no issues in the morning,' meaning that lawyers would resolve issues or take them up at the end of the previous day and never waste jury time.
"To this someone once replied to the judge: 'There should be that rule in a lot of marriages.'"
Criminal defense attorney Steve Fishman said "he was the kind of judge who didn't mind having a beer with the lawyers who came before him."
"One thing for sure, he didn't suffer from the disease known as robe-itis," a reference to some judges' overstated sense of importance.
Chief U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood issued a statement:
"Judge Duggan was a great judge and a valued colleague. He was fair minded and respected the law. He had a good sense of judges as a group and I valued his opinion on issues facing our court and judges.
"I will miss him. My heart goes out to his wife, Joan, and his family of whom he was extremely proud.”
Duggan was born Sept. 28, 1933, in Detroit, the son of an Irish immigrant father who worked in auto plants before opening a real estate business on the city’s eastside, where Duggan grew up with three older sisters, the court bio said. His mother taught in the city’s elementary schools.
He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from Xavier in Cincinnati in 1955, and then enrolled at the University of Detroit School of Law, where he received a law degree (cum laude) in 1958. In his third year of law school, he married Joan Colosimo, a nursing student whom he met two years earlier at a college dance. The couple went on to have four sons: Mike, Dan, Jim and Tim. A fifth son, Bob died in 2011.
After receiving his law degree, he joined what would eventually become the Brashear, Duggan & Mies law firm in Livonia.
In the mid-1970s, Duggan received the unsolicited judicial application. Gov. William Milliken appointed him to the Wayne County Circuit Court in 1976 on his third try. Duggan said close friend, Livonia Mayor Edward McNamara, a Democrat, put in a good work for him with Republican Lt. Gov. James Brickley, according to the court bio.
“If I hadn’t gotten that application in the mail, I don’t think I would have even thought about it,” Duggan told the District Court’s historical society in 2009.
After vacancies surfaced in the U.S. District Court, Duggan applied and got the nomination by President Reagan on the second round.
Duggan was universally respected by his colleagues.
“Judge Duggan and I first met when he was city attorney for Livonia and I was practicing law,” said senior U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn. “We developed a friendship that continued through his service on the Wayne County Circuit Court and his appointment as a judge of this court. He was always calm, thoughtful and fair minded. Absent from his makeup was any prejudice or bias. We will all miss him.”
Added U.S. District Judge Sean Cox, whom Duggan mentored throughout Cox’s judicial career: “Judge Duggan was a great judge but an even better person. He had an incredible work ethic. He cared about the law and the people who appeared before him. He had a quality which is very rare now days – common sense.”
On Facebook, some who knew him weighed in:
►Attorney Richard O'Neill: He used to stand in line to take the Fort Street bus! Agree with Mr. Morgan, he was fair.
►Attorney Ben Gonek: A very good man and jurist.
►Retired Detroit newspaper executive Tim Kelleher: He loved Xavier basketball and liked the burgers at the old Lindel AC. Good man!