Arbitrator | Mediator | Special Master


Justice Cynthia Stephens is a mediator and arbitrator with decades of appellate, civil rights, and commercial litigation experience. She was appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2008 and served on the bench until 2022. Before her appointment to the Court of Appeals, Stephens served as a Judge for the Third Circuit Court and the 36th District Court. Stephens has been admitted to practice in Georgia, Texas, and Michigan.

Prior to her appointment to the Court of Appeals, Stephens served as Vice-Chair of the Wayne County Charter Commission, Associate General Counsel to the Michigan Senate, Regional Director for the National Conference of Black Lawyers-Atlanta office, and consultant to the National League of Cities Veterans Discharge Upgrade Project.

As an active member of several local professional associations and organizations, Stephens served as Commissioner of the State Bar of Michigan for 16 years. During her tenure as Commissioner, Stephens chaired its Justice Initiatives Committee, Communications Committee, and Children’s Task Force. Additionally, Stephens is a former chair of the Association of Black Judges of Michigan and a former member of the Executive Board of the National Bar Association and its Judicial Council. 

In addition to her work as a judge, mediator, and arbitrator, Stephens has serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School. She has also served as a faculty member at Wayne State University Law School and the Detroit College of Law. 

Stephens has served on numerous civic boards and commissions including the Inner City Business Improvement Forum, the Greater Detroit Area Health Care Council, and the Girl Scout Council of Metropolitan Detroit. 

Stephens’ broad understanding of the judicial process has gained her notable recognition in the form of numerous awards and honors, including the State Bar of Michigan’s highest honor, the Roberts P. Hudson Award for her selfless, outstanding and unique service to and on behalf of the State Bar, the legal profession, and public.

  • B.A., Political Science and Government, University of Michigan, 1968 – 1971
  • J.D., Emory University School of Law 1967
  • Post Graduate, Atlanta University, 1972
  • Court Admissions
  • Texas
  • Michigan
  • Georgia
  • Eastern District of Michigan
  • Northern District of Georgia
  • Legal Employment
  • Mediator & Arbitrator, Apr 2022 – Present
  • Judge, Michigan Court of Appeals Detroit, Michigan, 2008-Apr 2022
  • Judge, Wayne County Circuit Court, 1985-2008
  • Judge, 36th District Court, 1982-1985
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Detroit Mercy Law School, 1986-Present
  • Adjunct Faculty, Wayne State University Law School, 1990-1991
  • Adjunct Faculty, Detroit College of Law, 1992-1995
  • Instructor, Wayne County Community College, 1984-1992
  • Associate General Counsel, Michigan Senate, 1979-1981
  • Discharge Review Coordinator, National League of Cities/ U.S. Conference of Mayors, VETS Project, 1977-1978
  • Adjunct Faculty, Clark College, 1975-1977
  • National Conference of Black Lawyers Military Discharge Review Project, 1975-1976
  • Project Coordinator, Neighborhood Youth Corps. Economic Opportunity, 1972-1973
  • Membership & Community Involvement
  • American Bar Association, 2010-Present
  • American Bar Association Fellow
  • American Corporate Counsel Pro-Bono Advisory Committee
  • Association of Black Judges of Michigan
  • Delta Manor, L.D.H.A.
  • Delta Sigma Theta, Detroit Alumnae, Life Member
  • Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Girl Scout Council of Metropolitan Detroit
  • Greater Detroit Health Care Council Board of Trustees
  • Houston Black Women Lawyers Board of Directors, 1975-1977
  • Inner-City Business Improvement Forum Board of Directors
  • Links Inc, Greater Wayne county Chapter, Committee Chair and Parliamentarian
  • Michigan District Judges Association, Board of Directors
  • Michigan Judges Association, Member, 1981– 2022
  • New Detroit, Incorporated Board of Directors, 1981-1985
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Golden Heritage Life Member
  • Board of Directors National Conference of Black Lawyers
  • Publications & Speaking Engagements
  • “ A Diverse Judiciary?” Michigan Bar Journal 2015 94-May Mich. B.J.36, 2015
  • “ Keeping An Arrest from Resulting In a Life Sentence In An Age of Full Disclosure” 2008 87-NOV Mich . B.J.29, 2008
  • “Committee on Justice Initiatives : The State Bar of Michigan Continues Its Work.” With Richard McCllellan 2006 66- MA Mich B .J. 26, 2008
  • “Judicial Selection and A More Representative Judiciary”, 1985 64-JUNE Mich. B.J. 38., 2008
  • “Katrina Survivors versus internally Displaced Persons; More than Semantics" with Jerome Reid American Bar Association Fall 2006 Human Rights Magazine, 2008
  • Michigan Non-Standard Jury Instructions, Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Company, 1998-2001
  • “From the Back of the Bench: Race and Jury Selection” Presented at the American Trial Lawyers Association July 1998
  • “Third-Party Threshold Issues” Presented for ICLE September and October 1998
  • “Preemptory Challenges & Equal Protection: Custom & Constitution Collide” Presented at American Trial Lawyers Association July 1996
  • Law and Procedure for Michigan Law Enforcement Edited by Dr. Edward J. Littlejohn; author of Chapters on Evidence and Criminal Law, 1990
  • “District Court Practice and the 1985 Michigan Court Rules,” Presented at the Detroit Bar Association Seminar on the 1985 Michigan Court Rules, 1985
  • Awards & Rankings
  • Ida B Wells Freedom and Justice Award-Detroit Branch NAACP, 2022
  • Trailblazer Award, Emory University School of Law, 2021
  • Leadership Award, Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, 2021
  • Woman of Excellence Award Michigan Chronicle, 2012
  • Woodrow Smith Community Service Award Pan African Orthodox Christian Church, 2010
  • Top Ladies of Distinction Shero Award “ Freedom Sister” - Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 2009
  • Roberts P. Hudson Award, State Bar of Michigan, 2005
  • Leonard P. Sain Award African American Alumni Council University of Michigan, 2003
  • Wolverine Bar Association, Damon J. Keith Community Spirit Award, 2001
  • National Bar Association, Presidential Award, 2000
  • Detroit Human Rights Commission, Anita Hill Award, 1992
  • National Bar Association Presidents Award, 1981
  • National Organization of Women, Susan B. Anthony Award, 1987
  • National Council of Negro Women, Detroit Award of Merit, 1987
  • experience

    We use cookies and similar technologies to enable services and functionality on our site and to understand your interaction with our service. By clicking on accept, you agree to our use of such technologies for marketing and analytics. See Privacy Policy