David Lawson

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David Lawson
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #12
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   6/2/2000 - Present
Preceded by:   Avern Cohn
Personal History
Born:   1951
Hometown:   Detroit, MI
Undergraduate:   U. of Notre Dame, B.A., 1973
Law School:   Wayne State U., J.D., 1976

David M. Lawson is an Article III federal judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. He joined the court in 2000 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton.

Early life and education

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Lawson graduated from Notre Dame University with a bachelor's degree in 1973 and later obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State University in 1976.[1]

Professional career

Lawson was a law clerk for Michigan Supreme Court Justice James Ryan from 1976 to 1977. From 1977 to 1985, Lawson was a private practice attorney in Detroit, Michigan. Lawson served as a Special Assistant Attorney General and Special Prosecutor for an Oakland County, Michigan One-Man Grand Jury Trial from 1978 to 1980. Lawson was a private practice attorney in Michigan from 1980 to 1994. Lawson also served as a Special Prosecutor for Livingston County, Michigan from 1991 to 1993. Lawson entered private practice in Birmingham, Michigan from 1994 to 2000.[1]

Lawson has served as a faculty member of the Michigan Judicial Institute since its inception in 1977. Lawson is currently an Adjunct Professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Lawson has also lectured at the Detroit Mercy Law School; at the Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE); the Wayne County Clinical Advocacy Program; and at several Michigan State and Civic Bar Association seminars.[2]

Judicial career

Eastern District of Michigan

On the recommendation of Michigan Senator Carl Levin, Lawson was nominated to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by President Bill Clinton on August 5, 1999 to a seat vacated by Avern Cohn. Lawson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 24, 2000 on a Senate vote and received commission on June 2, 2000.[1]

Notable cases

Students bring class action v. Academy of Court Reporting (2009)

  United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
     *Tashelia Bobbitt, et al., v. Academy of Court Reporting, Inc., et al. 2:07-cv-10742-DML-VMM
Judge Lawson presided in a lawsuit filed against the Academy of Court Reporting by former students. The students at the college's suburban Detroit campus sued because they had been promised associate's degrees despite the fact that an entity such as the Academy was actually prohibited by Michigan law from conferring that type of degree. The trade school eventually agreed to a settlement under which $7.8 million (with $2.5 million going to attorney's fees) would be disbursed amongst at least 1,281 students, in addition to tuition discounts and other stipulations.[3]

Michigan oil drillers project halted by environmentalists, donor (2008)

  United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
     *Anglers of the AU Sable, et al. v. Unites States Forest Service, et al. 1:05-cv-10152-DML-CEB
Lawson presided over a case involving oil drilling in the northern part of Michigan. The case debated the legality of a permit the US Forest Service gave to Savoy Energy LP of Traverse City, Michigan to drill an exploratory well near the Au Sable River's south branch. The site of the proposed wellhead would have been located in the Huron-Manistee National Forest, about three-tenths of a mile from the Mason Tract, a 4,679-acre wilderness area prized by anglers and other outdoor recreationists.[4]

Forest supervisor Leanne Marten said when approving Savoy's application that the project would not significantly harm the environment, and that the company would be required to keep noise to a minimum.[4] However, Judge Lawson found that the Forest Service didn't consider how degrading the area could harm tourism, and said the agency did a "woefully inadequate" job of evaluating how the drilling might affect the Kirtland's warbler, an endangered songbird that nests in the area.[4]

Two environmental groups, the Sierra Club and Anglers of the Au Sable, sued the government to halt the drilling. Joining the suit was Tim Mason, whose grandfather, auto executive George Mason, donated the original 1,200 acres to the state upon his death in 1954 and asked that it be maintained as wilderness.[4]

The plan by Savoy Energy was to clear about 3.5 acres of forest for a well site on federal land, then drill beneath the Mason Tract at an angle.[4] If enough gas or oil was found, the company intended to install a pipeline and build a production facility about a mile east of the well as it was consider by Savoy Energy a source to increase domestic supply of oil and natural gas. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved the project shortly after the Forest Service granted the permit, but it was then put on hold after Lawson issued an order in December 2005 blocking the company from clearing any land to start their project.[4]

Subsequent to Judge Lawson's order, the government decided not to appeal the ruling blocking the drilling. In October 2012, the nine-year dispute ended when Savoy Energy wrote the Federal Bureau of Land Management and withdrew its permit request.[5][6]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Avern Cohn
Eastern District of Michigan
Seat #12
Succeeded by:

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