Frank Kelley

If you happened to be listening to Stateside last week, you may have heard me talking about a new biography, The People’s Lawyer, which I co-wrote with former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley.

While the words are mine, the story is his.

I wanted to talk about it today, not to plug the book, but for a couple reasons.

Frank Kelley
Detroit Free Press

Frank Kelley is a man of the people and a true public servant.

He became both the youngest and oldest Attorney General in Michigan's history, serving for 37 years. He worked with seven presidents and five Michigan governors, acted to touch the lives of everyone in our state, and bowed out gracefully without a whiff of scandal or disrepute in all that time in office.

His story is told in the new book The People’s Lawyer: The Life and Times of Frank J. Kelley, the Nation’s Longest-Serving Attorney General.

Frank Kelley
Detroit Free Press


Forty years ago this week, Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley issued an opinion that has resonated in countless homes through the years:  can a woman keep her maiden name? 

The question was raised by the state Board of Nursing, asking if female nursing graduates could use their maiden names on their licenses. 

Kelley replied that married women can maintain their maiden names. Not only that, six years later, he said husbands are allowed to take their wives' surnames as well. 

"This sounds like nothing that would raise an eyebrow these days, but that was a fairly momentous development back then," said Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio's political commentator.

* Listen to the full interview with Jack Lessenberry above.

Last week, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette did something many found startling, especially those politically liberal. Schuette announced that in Detroit's bankruptcy filing he intended to intervene on behalf of those who have pensions coming.

Former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley issued more formal opinions about the constitutionality of various Michigan laws than any attorney general in history.

Of course, that’s partly because he served longer in the office than any attorney general in the history of this or any other state-- thirty-seven years. He was elected ten times, and retired before he had to. Now nearly eighty-seven, he is mostly cheerful, healthy, and enjoying life from his home on Lake Lansing.