Wayne State University Law School celebrated five new members into the Alumni Wall of Fame during a ceremony on April 9

Wayne State University Law School celebrated five new members into the Alumni Wall of Fame during a ceremony held at the law school on April 9, 2024.

The Wayne Law Alumni Wall of Fame Award is the highest honor the Law School presents. It is awarded to alumni, faculty, or staff who embody the highest standard of excellence and have distinguished themselves through their contributions to their field and the profession, their work toward the betterment of humanity, or their significant impact on the Law School and its community. The Wall of Fame, an interactive, multimedia display in the Law School lobby showcasing the inductees, was made possible by a donation from 1986 Wayne Law alumnus, E. Powell Miller.

(L-R) Event emcee Judge Edward Ewell; I. W. (Bill) Winsten, JD; Gary Torgow JD; Ret. Magistrate Judge Vernelis K. Armstrong, JD; Julia Darlow, JD; Daniel Grano and son (accepting for father Joe Grano); and Wayne Law Dean Richard Bierschbach.   

The 2024 honorees are:

Ret. U.S. Magistrate Judge Vernelis K. Armstrong, JD ’60. Magistrate Judge Armstrong was appointed in 1961 by the Michigan Attorney General as the first African American female Assistant Attorney General. The following year, she was appointed law clerk for Justice Adams when he was named to the Michigan Supreme Court. Armstrong was sworn in as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Northern District in September of 1994, becoming the first African American and first female Magistrate in the Western Division of the District. Magistrate Judge Armstrong retired in 2015 and continues to be recognized for her accomplishments.

Julia Donovan Darlow, JD ’71. Darlow practiced law for 33 years with Dickinson Wright PLLC in Detroit and for two years with Varnum LLP. Beginning early in her law career, Darlow worked with other women lawyers in promoting the election and appointment of women to judicial office and in engaging with public issues of particular concern to women. Darlow served as president of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (1976-77), on the State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners (1977-1986), and as president of the State Bar of Michigan (1985-86). Darlow was the first woman to hold this position in Michigan and among the first women to lead state bar associations in the country. Additionally, Darlow shared her talent and expertise with students at Wayne Law when she taught here in 1976 and 1996.

Joseph D. Grano, Distinguished Professor of Law (posthumously). Grano served as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, then joined the faculty of the University of Detroit School of Law. He served as acting dean of the law school, then joined the faculty of Wayne State University Law School. Grano served as a much-loved professor of criminal procedure and constitutional law for 25 years. He was a prolific author of law review articles and his highly praised book, Confessions, Truth, and The Law. Grano was a member of the American Law Institute, the Academy of Scholars, and numerous professional organizations in Michigan. The family of the late Prof. Grano was present to accept this honor and included Justice Maura Corrigan, Daniel Grano, Dianna Grano, Joseph P. Grano, and Marianne Grano.

Gary Torgow, JD ’82. Torgow is the Chairman of Huntington National Bank. Previously, he served as Chairman of TCF Financial and Chemical Financial Corporation. Torgow was the founder and Chairman of Talmer Bank and was also the founder and Chairman of the Sterling Group. Torgow serves on the boards of DTE Energy (NYSE), Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and Corewell Health Beaumont Hospital. Torgow is the Chairman of Business Leaders for Michigan and is a Trustee and Board member of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan. Additionally, Torgow serves as the President of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, is on the board of the Pope Francis Center, and is President of the Yeshiva Beth Yehuda. Torgow serves on the Advisory Board of the Carl Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy.

I. W. (Bill) Winsten, JD ’79. Bill Winsten is described by his peers as an “outstanding trial lawyer,” “phenomenally talented,” and “effective, smart, and innovative,” according to Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Winsten has shown great dedication to Wayne Law through his many years serving as both a member and chairman of the Wayne Law the Board of Visitors. He continues to shape Wayne Law through his role as an adjunct professor, teaching Evidence.

“These five  inductees are strong examples of the  value and impact of a Wayne Law education and how it can transform lives and communities, they  represent profound legal careers, significant community impact, and a commitment to furthering legal education for generations to come,” said Richard A. Bierschbach, Dean of Wayne State University Law School.

To learn more about the Wall of Fame selection process, or to nominate a candidate, visit the Wall of Fame nomination page. Nominations received by November 1 each year will be considered for the following award cycle.



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