Judge Dan Michael Elected to Leadership Position at National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Memphis and Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael was recently elected to a top leadership position at one of the country’s largest and most respected judicial membership organizations.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, founded in 1937, offers a range of educational, research, and technical services to approximately 30,000 juvenile and family court professionals each year.  Judge Michael was chosen by his peers to serve as the NCJFCJ’s treasurer for the next year.

Judge Michael has been a member of the NCJFCJ for a number of years and has sat on its Board of Directors for just over two years. He said that the NCJFCJ is hugely beneficial to judges for a number of reasons, including the quality of the programs it offers and the way it connects judges all across the country.

Judge Michael has frequently seen the positive impact of the NCJFCJ in the Memphis and Shelby County Juvenile Court. The organization, for instance, has issued enhanced resource guidelines, including bench cards, that are a source of ongoing training for Judge Michael and the magistrate judges.

The NCJFCJ also performed an audit of the Juvenile Court three years ago with the goal of making it a trauma-informed court. That audit called for, among other things, adverse childhood experience testing so that Judge Michael and the magistrates can respond to the best of their abilities to the needs of the often-traumatized children and families that come to court. The audit also emphasized taking steps to ensure the well-being of front line workers at the court who deal with trauma on a daily basis.

“They do an incredible job of giving us the information to do a better job,” Judge Michael said of the NCJFCJ.

Another advantage of the NCJFCJ, in Judge Michael’s view, is the way that its ranks essentially form a national network of judges, all of whom have the ability to contact each other should they face a problem that they need help with.

“The friendships I’ve made with members of the Board and the Council over the years have been very satisfying and very deep,” Judge Michael said. “If I have an issue I’m not too sure about, I can call a judge in another part of the country to discuss it.”

Judge Michael is eager to jump right into his role as treasurer. It is a position that he takes very seriously. Cognizant of the huge responsibility that the Board of Directors has, one of Judge Michael’s chief goals in that position is to ensure that all board members are comfortable with the ins and outs of financial statements.

“I want this board to be engaged and asking those hard questions that need to be asked so we don’t allow this organization to stumble financially,” he said.

Judge Michael was elected to his position as the head of the Memphis and Shelby County Juvenile Court in 2014, but his professional life has been dedicated to juvenile justice issues for far longer. Upon his graduation from Memphis State University’s Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, he became a CASA attorney at juvenile court. In 1993, he was named executive director of CASA.

A couple of years later, in 1995, Juvenile Court Judge Kenneth Turner named Judge Michael his chief counsel. Judge Michael was appointed Magistrate Pro Temp in 1997 and then was made a Juvenile Court Referee in 2001. In 2013, Judge Michael was named Chief Magistrate and Special Judge at the Court. He received the Child Advocacy National Certificate of Recognition from the American Bar Association of Young Lawyers in 1998 for “Significant Legal Contribution to Advancing the Welfare of our Nation’s Children.”

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby congratulated Judge Michael on his new position at the NCJFCJ.

“Judge Michael’s knowledge, passion, and dedication to serving youths and families will make him an invaluable addition to the leadership team at the NCJFCJ,” Justice Holly Kirby said. “I look forward to hearing about what he and the NCJFCJ accomplish over the next year to further the cause of juvenile justice.”

Looking forward, Judge Michael is enthusiastic about the NCJFCJ and hopes that his fellow judges in Tennessee will become a part of the group.

“What I would say is if you’re a juvenile court judge, general sessions judge who has juvenile jurisdiction, or a family court judge, you could not join a better organization,” he said. “I would encourage all judges to consider joining the National Council and to come to the annual conference and see what I’m talking about.” That next annual conference will be in Orlando, Florida in July 2019.

For more information about the NCJFCJ, including how to join, visit the organization’s website