Saturday, October 23, 2021

Hammoud sworn in as first-ever Arab American, Muslim Solicitor General

Hammoud was appointed by Attorney General Dana Nessel in January

February 11, 2019

Fadwa Hammoud was sworn-in as the nation's first Arab-American and first Muslim Solicitor General at a sunny afternoon ceremony in Dearborn on Saturday.

Hammoud is also the first woman appointed to the job in Michigan.

“Yes, it’s true that an Arab Muslim person has not held this office before,” she said. “I carry those identities and all that they teach me about loving equity and justice with me into this work.”

The ceremony took place at Hammoud's alma mater, Fordson High School, a beautiful stone building that was its own presence at the gathering. 

The auditorium was full-to-bursting with family, community members, elected officials and well-wishers. This was no somber ritual, it was a celebration.

On stage with Hammoud were Attorney General Dana Nessel, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Arab American News publisher Osama Siblani, family members and friends.

Several guests gave speeches about Hammoud, including her younger brother, Abbas. 

“I’m here today to let you know, as someone who knows this incredible woman intimately: You can trust her,” Abbas said. "You can trust her judgment because love is at the center of her decision-making, is at the center of every decision she makes, and the work that she will do for the people of the state of Michigan."

Abbas went on to say that his sister's deep connection to her family and their rich history will guide her as a servant of justice. He also peppered in a few fun facts about her, telling the audience how she once played a modern-day Juliet on the same Fordson stage, years before.

After graduating from Fordson, Hammoud went on to Harvard and eventually to the office of the Wayne County Prosecutor. 

Worthy, Hammoud’s former boss, aired some lighthearted grievances about losing her best attorney to the Solicitor General position.

“I was quite upset when I found out (Hammoud) was leaving the office” but knew how important it was for her to take the position, Worthy said. “If I didn’t understand that before, when I heard your applause for her — when I see the breadth and depth of the community support she has — I get it now.”

As prosecutor, Worthy discovered thousands of untested rape kits in a Detroit warehouse and formed a special task force to bring the perpetrators to justice. Hammoud worked in Worthy’s office for eight years.

“When she started, she was a very young lawyer ... and I started hearing about how she was handling these big cases. She’d only been in the office for a short while,” Worthy said. “Then I found out not only was she well-suited, not only was she a natural born leader, not only was her decision-making second to none, but I realized just how very talented she was.”

Worthy joked that Hammoud will probably her be boss on a few upcoming legal projects, but ended her speech on a serious note.

“This is such a big deal, this is such a piece of history,” Worthy said.

Nessel, another alumna of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, also had a lot to say about her choice for the state’s top appellate lawyer.

“To say that Fadwa Hammoud is an incredibly special person is sort of to say the palace of Versailles is 'a nice house,' or that Donald Trump is 'not the best president,'” Nessel said. “Simply put, it’s a vast understatement.”

Hammoud and the attorney general know each other well from their time working for Worthy. Nessel told stories about Hammoud’s childhood and how she was often roped in to being everyone’s personal stylist at the prosecutor’s office.

Nessel also talked about how uniquely qualified Hammoud was for the job.

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“When I took this office, by far the most difficult issue facing the office was what to do with the Flint criminal cases, which had dragged on for years and cost nearly $10 million to the state,” Nessel said. “I immediately knew there was only one person I could trust with one of the most important and complex cases not just in the history of our state but in the history of our nation, and of course that was Fadwa.

“I know that with her on the case, at long last, the residents of Flint will receive the dignity and the justice that they so badly need, and so badly deserve.”

Hammoud immigrated from a small town in Lebanon to the United States as an 11-year-old. 

Twenty-two years later, she made history as she was sworn-in on the Quran held in the hands of her young son.

“Believe me when I say that words would fail in describing my gratitude today," Hammoud said. "With that said, it is with great hope for the future of our state, and because of the strength each of you has given me, I am prepared to elevate my level of service to represent our state in the highest of courts as your Solicitor General.”

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