Judge Tim Connors Honored as NCJFCJ Innovator of the Year

Full press release impact_innovation-pr edit

From the press release:

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) announced two honorees of the 3rd annual Justice Innovation Awards recognizing the national Innovator of the Year and the Impact of the Year recipients: the Honorable Timothy Connors of the 22nd Circuit Court in Washtenaw County, Mich. and the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, D.C. The honorees were recognized at the NCJFCJ’s 80th Annual Conference highlighting informative presentations on current and cutting edge topics that inspired, provoked and precipitated discussions about issues facing the juvenile and family court system.

The Innovator of the Year Award honors an active, in-good-standing NCJFCJ member who has inspired, sponsored, promoted or led an innovation or accomplishment of national significance in juvenile justice, child abuse and neglect, family law and/or domestic violence. The Impact of the Year Award recognizes, from the Annual Conference-host state (Washington, D.C.), an individual, state/local court, law firm, advocacy group or service provider who has been instrumental in leading or implementing significant improvements or innovations which advance the mission of the NCJFCJ.

“It is our privilege to recognize the outstanding work of both Judge Connors and the team at the Latin American Youth Center,” said Judge Anthony (Tony) Capizzi, NCJFCJ president. “We honor their tireless commitment to improving the lives of children and families, especially those in our justice system. We hope that we can continue to raise awareness of the core issues that affect our nation’s families.”

Judge Connors serves as co-chair of the Michigan Tribal-State-Federal Forum, instrumental in drafting the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act. In 2013, he was awarded a grant by the Michigan Supreme Court to determine whether tribal peacemaking values and practices could be implemented in a state court system. As presiding judge of the Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court, he has fostered the healing of important relationships among litigants in child welfare, family and probate cases by incorporating Native American peacemaking principles and philosophies in conflict resolution.

“I am forever grateful to the Michigan Supreme Court, the University of Michigan Law School, and now the NCJFCJ for opening this path of Peacemaking and restorative justice in state court systems,” said Judge Connors. “This path is the creation of the collaborative effort of the National American Indian Court Judges Association, the Native American Rights Fund Indigenous Peacemaking Initiative and the Michigan Tribal State Federal Forum to find common ground. This common ground greatly benefits our youth, our families and our communities. I hope all of our states will choose to walk this path together.”

“This is a great national honor that Judge Connors has received, and it is well deserved,” said Bridget M. McCormack, Michigan Supreme Court. “For many years, Judge Connors has shown a remarkable dedication to implementing tribal and community court peacemaking principles to resolve cases. In fact, his court was the first in Michigan to adopt the use of these principles, and his success in this area has prompted other states to take notice. His passion for applying justice in collaborative and innovative ways is nothing short of inspiring.”

“Judge Connors honors and respects the traditions of the tribes and tribal justice systems that provided the foundational knowledge and peacemaking principles for his court,” said Nikki Borchardt Campbell, Executive Director, National American Indian Court Judges Association. “We believe these restorative principles can be beneficial to participants when applied correctly and in the exact manner that Judge Connors has applied them in his court. His court and his approach are shining examples. We are proud of his work and his contribution to both state and tribal courts.”

Congratulations Judge Connors

Judge Timothy Connors

Washtenaw Circuit Judge Tim Connors Honored with Judicial Excellence Award

Here:

GRAND RAPIDS, MI, October 28, 2015 – The Michigan Judges Association has announced that Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Timothy P. Connors is the 2015 winner of the Hilda Gage Judicial Excellence Award. Judge Connors has served on the bench since 1991, serving as chief judge for more than a decade, and also serving by appointment as Judge Pro Tem for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

“Judge Connors has led groundbreaking efforts to strengthen the juvenile court in Washtenaw County and he has been an instrumental collaborator in developing strong state-tribal court relations,” said Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack. “Because of his efforts, Washtenaw’s juvenile court system looks dramatically different in the six short months he has presided over this docket.”

“His impact on child welfare cases transcends the systemic reform efforts he has undertaken,” Justice McCormack said. “On each individual case, he carefully listens to each family’s story. According to the lawyers who regularly appear before him, no matter the result in the particular hearing or case, the parties all leave feeling that they have been heard. The community’s respect for the juvenile court has grown because of his approach.”

This award is named after the late Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Hilda Gage and recognizes Circuit and Court of Appeals judges who have excelled in trial and docket management, legal scholarship, and contributions to the profession and the community. The award honors current or former judges who serve their profession and their communities with integrity, skill, and courage every day.

A biography of Judge Connors is available here.

Michigan Public Radio on Washtenaw County’s Peacemaker Court

Here.

An excerpt:

There appears to be a lot of interest in a new kind of court in Washtenaw County.

More than 80 lawyers, mediators, and probation officers packed Judge Timothy Connors’ courtroom on Friday.

They were there for a six-hour education session on the Native American philosophy that guides the new peacemaking court. 

The program was led by Tribal Council member and former Tribal Judge JoAnne Gasco and Court Peacemaker Paul Raphael from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottowa and Chippewa Indians.