The city of Southfield regrets to report the passing of Southfield City Attorney John E. (Jack) Beras on Monday, January 7, 2013.
Mr. Beras served the Southfield community and the legal profession with great distinction throughout his long and notable career. Mr. Beras was appointed Southfield City Attorney in January of 1987. He was formerly in private practice for fourteen (14) years and previously also served as a Southfield Councilman, Planning Commissioner, and Police & Fire Civil Service Commissioner. Mr. Beras earned a bachelor of science degree, with honors, from Michigan State University in 1970; and his law degree, magna cum laude, from Wayne State University in 1973. He served as President of the Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys and President of the Southfield Bar Association. He also served as Chairman of the Michigan Municipal League Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Corporation Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan. In 2009, Mr. Beras was awarded the Distinguished Municipal Attorney of the Year award by the Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys (MAMA). The award is given for outstanding contributions to the practice of municipal law on behalf of cities and villages throughout Michigan, and acknowledges the highest level of professional accomplishment while also serving their colleagues through professional organizations such as MAMA and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.
Mr. Beras held the following City of Southfield offices / positions:
As City Attorney, Mr. Beras successfully represented the City as counsel and co-counsel in over one hundred (100) cases. In 1995, he argued the case of Ewing v City of Southfield in the trial court and the Court of Appeals in which the legality of the property tax administration fee was upheld. This decision saved the City from a multi-million dollar judgment and sustained a fee widely used by communities throughout the state.
- Member of the City Planning Commission for three (3) years, including service as Commission Chairman;
- Member of the City Police/Fire Civil Service Commission for two (2) years;
- Member of the City Council for six (6) years, including service as Council President;
- Member of the City Library Building Authority for eight (8) years, including service as Commission Chairman during the construction of the new Southfield Public Library in 2003; and
- City Attorney for the past twenty-six (26) years.
During his tenure as City Attorney, Mr. Beras drafted dozens of ordinances (none of which have been successfully challenged) and twenty-five (25) charter amendments, all of which were approved by Southfield voters. Most importantly, he provided sound legal advice on a daily basis to the Mayor, City Council, City Administrator and other staff for over two decades while always maintaining a reputation for integrity, fairness, and high ethical standards.
Mr. Beras also served the legal profession as:
- President of the Southfield Bar Association;
- Member of the MAMA Board of Directors for twelve (12) years, including two (2) terms as president;
- Member of the MML Legal Defense Fund Board for twelve (12) years, including two (2) terms as Chairman; and
- Board member of the State Bar Public Corporation Law Section.
In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Church of the Transfiguration Franciscan Poverty Program are requested. Cards may be sent to the City Attorney’s Office, 26000 Evergreen Road, Southfield, MI 48037 for forwarding to the Beras family.