Ken Sanborn, right, poses for a 2009 photo with the late Judge George Steeh and with attorney Julie Gatti, who was elected as a Macomb County Circuit Court judge earlier this month.
Here is a statement released by the Macomb County Circuit Court in memory of Ken Sanborn:
Judge Kenneth “Ken” Noble Sanborn passed away (Tuesday, November 20, 2018) at the age of
92. Judge Sanborn had a lengthy and exemplary career as a lawyer, public servant, and
As a young attorney, he provided pro bono representation for Lieutenant Milo Radulovich
in a celebrated trial which served as the basis of the film Good Night, and Good Luck. Lieutenant
Radulovich was stripped of his commission due to the alleged communist sympathies of his father
and sister, and Judge Sanborn successfully fought to have Radulovich’s commission
reinstated. This trial is widely regarded as heralding an end to McCarthyism and the Red Scare
of the 1950s.
Judge Sanborn held numerous public offices throughout his distinguished career. He served as
Clinton Township Justice of the Peace, State Representative for Macomb County, Clinton
Township Supervisor, Trustee and Chairman of Macomb Community College. He was elected
as Macomb County Probate Judge in 1972, and subsequently served as Circuit Court Judge from
1978 to 1990.
In 2008, the Michigan Supreme Court appointed Judge Sanborn as Acting Chief
Judge of the Macomb County Probate Court. He served in this capacity until January of 2010.
He continued to serve as a visiting judge for the 16th Judicial Circuit Court for many years after.
Judge Sanborn was well respected by all who had the pleasure of working with him, and his
dedication to the legal profession.
Chief Judge James M. Biernat, Jr. stated “Judge Sanborn will be sorely missed. His commitment
to justice was exemplified in the historic Radulovich case; he was willing to do the right thing even
when unpopular and at some risk to his own career. Judge Sanborn’s character is a great
example to new attorneys.”
The Macomb Daily on Tuesday contacted author Michael Ranville, who wrote a book about the Radulovich case, “To Strike at a King,” published in 1996.
“(Sanborn) was a man of great humility and rare achievement,” Ranville told the Daily by phone from his home in Charlotte, near Lansing. “He had the ability to see right and wrong and the courage to stand up for it.”
Sanborn told The Macomb Daily in 2006: “I could never live with myself if I didn’t help Milo.”
The Radulovich case is depicted in part of the 2005 movie, “Good Night and Good Luck,” an excellent film that portrays iconic CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow’s reporting on the McCarthy era. The book, “To Strike at a King,” in which Sanborn played a major role, is still available on Amazon and still receiving rave reviews from readers.