Judge Tim Connors has been a State Court Judge since 1991. For eleven of those years he served as a Chief Judge. He co-chairs the Michigan Tribal-State-Federal Forum. Judge Connors has served by appointment as Judge Pro Tem for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. He is the Presiding Judge of the Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court. Judge Connors presides over cases in the Civil and Domestic Divisions of the Washtenaw County Trial Court and handles the Neglect and Abuse docket for the Juvenile Court.
Judge Connors is the author of Exit, Pursued By a Bear, Why Peacemaking Makes Sense in State Court Justice Systems; American Bar Association Judges Journal, Fall 2016; Our Children are Sacred, Why the Indian Child Welfare Act Matters; American Bar Association Judges Journal, Spring 2011 and Crow Dogs vs. Spotted Tail: Case Closed?; Michigan Bar Journal, July 2010. He co-authored, TRIBAL COURT PEACEMAKING A Model for the Michigan State Court System? Michigan Bar Journal, June 2015.
The Native American Rights Fund appointed Judge Connors to its Indigenous Peacemaking Initiative in 2017. The mission of this initiative is to support efforts of tribes and their allies to utilize traditional native methods of dispute resolution whenever those methods might afford desirable outcomes. Judge Connors is incorporating Peacemaking principles, philosophies and procedures shared by Tribal communities into State Court justice systems. This effort is supported by the Michigan Supreme Court. Cases identified as potential beneficiaries of Peacemaking are those where the litigants have ongoing relationships after the court’s adjudication is complete. In addition, cases where litigants need a more complete understanding of and closure to the conflict that brought them into court are also potential beneficiaries of Peacemaking. To date, successful outcomes of Peacemaking efforts have been witnessed in wrongful death suits, elder guardianship disputes, estate distribution issues, custody and parenting time disputes and neglect and abuse proceedings.
Also in 2017, the Youth Justice Fund appointed Judge Connors to their inaugural Advisory Board. Their mission is to assist children upon their release from detention in Michigan’s prisons and jails by providing mentoring, training, services and resources necessary to ensure human dignity and full participation in the community.
In 2018, Judge Connors received the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Award from the NAACP Ypsilanti Willow Run Branch. Also, in 2017, Judge Connors was the recipient of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Innovator of the Year Award for Implementing Tribal Peacemaking Practices in a State Court System – The Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court. In 2016, he was the recipient of the Reverend Thomas H. Smith Humanitarian Service Award from the Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 2015, Judge Connors received the Hilda Gage Judicial Excellence Award from the Michigan Judges Association. The award “honors judges who serve their profession and their communities with integrity, skill, and courage every day.” Judge Connors is a three-time recipient of the Justice Blair Moody Award for Significant Contributions to Judicial Excellence. In 2014, Judge Connors was awarded the Child Welfare Jurist of the Year Award by the Foster Care Review Board. He also received the Peace Builder Award on behalf of the Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court from the Dispute Resolution Center. This award was given “in recognition of outstanding commitment to the practice of just and humane resolution of social conflict.” Further in 2014, dbusiness, Detroit’s Premier Business Journal recognized Judge Connors as one of the “top circuit court judges” in Southeast Michigan. This recognition was based on integrity, knowledge of the law, efficiency and judicial temperament. Judge Connors was awarded the Tecumseh Peacekeeping Award for Dedicated Service to Protecting the Rights of American Indians from the Michigan State Bar Indian Law Section. Judge Connors was presented with the Patriot Award for Outstanding Service to the Bench, the Bar, and the Community from the Washtenaw County Bar Association in 2009.
In 2014, Judge Connors was elected Chairman of the Board of Eversight, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the restoration of sight. Judge Connors is a member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Tribal Leadership Forum.